Thursday, October 4, 2018

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LaGrange suing Dutchess County Legislature over beekeeper

LAGRANGE – The Town of LaGrange is suing the Dutchess County Legislature and Juliette Landi, co-owner of Remsburger's Honey and Maple on Traver Road in the town.  The lawsuit stems from the legislature's inclusion of the business property in a county "agricultural district" despite the town's objection to it.

According to Town Supervisor Alan Bell, Landi bought the property in 2017 with business partner Dennis Remsburger.  Bell says that Remsberger, a beekeeper, met with the town's assessor seeking an agricultural exemption for the property because they intended to harvest honey at the location.

The couple did receive a home occupation permit for their business. Bell noted that Landi and Remsberger sought inclusion through the Dutchess County Farmland Protection Bureau (FPB) and were denied on two separate occasions.  The county legislature accepted the FPB decision the first two times but voted to include the parcel on August 20 in a 13-10 vote. 

Bell is “disappointed that Remsburger didn't keep his word after he agreed to the parameters set up by the town in granting the home occupation permit. I'm disappointed in our legislative representative, Dale Borchert, for supporting something the town vehemently opposed and I'm also disappointed that the legislature didn't acknowledge the refusal by the FPB to not grant the inclusion."  

County Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver said that all 2.1 acres of the Landi parcel was declared to be "not a critical parcel" by the FPB. "This is not a shock that the Town of LaGrange has sued the legislature over this.  I'm sure that the courts will examine all of the facts before rendering a decision." 

Pulver praised the Farmland Protection Board saying it has “some of the best people available to make decisions and recommendations to the legislature that affect agriculture." 

Pulver happens to be the only professional farmer on the lawmaking body.  Legislator Borchert did not return calls seeking comment.

Juliette Landi and Dennis Remsburger said they feel as if the town is trying to interfere with their home-based business of preparing and selling both honey and maple syrup.  Landi had previously received a home occupation permit and "complied with all of the parameters set forth by the town."  The town rescinded the permit based on "complaints" on September 18, 10 days before filing the lawsuit.  When asked what the most frustrating aspect of the lawsuit is, Landi said "I feel like I am being singled out.  I am trying to run an honest to goodness business and do the right thing."  Landi claims that Remsburger's Honey and Maple does around $300,000 annually.

The town's lawsuit seeks relief including the permanent revocation of the home occupation permit, restraining Landi and Remsburger from keeping beehives at the location and replacement of trees that were removed to accommodate the home-based business.           According to Landi, two of the trees removed were done so because they were dead and the additional two trees were removed to make room for solar panels that the town had approved.  The town also seeks to restrain Landi and Remsburger from using box trucks to transport beehives to and from their property.

 


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