Firewood business, hot neighbors
The other important question in the case is this: how is the firewood facility classified under the town zoning code? Fuchs said it was a “forestry enterprise use,” which does not require a special use permit. But Cohen said that his understanding of the term, which is supported by information from the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets and Cornell Cooperative Extension, a forestry enterprise use is one that would involve something like growing trees on the property or gathering forest products.
Because the operation involves bringing in logs from elsewhere and processing them, the operation actually belongs in another category in the town code called “agricultural products processing,” which requires a special use permit.
Had Fuchs at some point decided that the operation required a special use permit, the matter would have been referred to the planning board. This is an important step in the process because in granting a permit, the planning board has the authority to require conditions that might mitigate any negative impacts.
The Sagers have said in court papers the operation goes on from 7 a.m. though 11 p.m., seven days a week, sometimes including holidays; it is quite noisy and involves heavy truck traffic. These are conditions that the planning board could have mitigated with restrictions on hours of operation and various other measures.