I-Team 10 Investigation: Farm Stand Feud
Posted at: 08/07/2012 5:14 PM
| Updated at: 08/07/2012 7:18 PM
By: Brett Davidsen | WHEC.com
Save the farm stand, that's the rallying cry of neighbors who support a Hamlin boy's vegetable business.
Joey Hofschneider had no idea he was violating town zoning laws when he set up his stand. After the town shut him down, his friends called I-Team 10.
Fifteen year old Joey Hofschneider wants to be a farmer. Every day, he tends to his crops on land that some friends have given him to farm. He's also an entrepreneur, selling his vegetables at a small stand in front of his home on West Wautoma Beach Road in Hamlin. He hopes to raise a little money for college.
Hofschneider said, "I put it up about three weeks ago and people have been stopping by every day, putting money in the can for me and buying a lot of vegetables."
It's made his mother very proud.
Karen Hofschneider, Joey's mother, said, "I've always told my children to follow your heart, follow your passion and trust that you are doing the right thing."
But last week, Joey found a note on his vegetable stand. It was from the town of Hamlin warning him to shut down the stand or face a citation. It said the zoning laws prevent him from selling his items on this street.
It left Joey Hofschneider dumbfounded saying, "It does not make sense at all to me, and you run it through your head and you just can't think of anything."
Kevin Baxter is the man who gave Joey the land to the farm. Ironically, he says his brother is the neighbor who complained about the stand.
He said, "This ain't Main Street where we got twenty cars pulling up at one time."
Chad Fabry is the Hamlin code enforcement officer. He said he tried to dissuade the neighbor from filing the complaint, but said once he did, his hands were tied.
Fabry said, "Someone complained about the farm stand. Once that happens, I don't have the leeway to not ask them to stop what they're doing."
If the neighborhood has anything to say about it, Joey will be allowed to sell his vegetables. Signs of support have gone up on his street. A petition drive to keep the stand up has garnered nearly 100 signatures already.
But one name that won't be on it is the neighbor who complained.
News10NBC wanted to ask that neighbor about his concerns, but he wouldn't come to the door.
What News10NBC found interesting though -- while objecting to the farm stand he hasn't filed any complaints about a house around the corner. The house advertises used items for sale.
Maybe that's because neighbors say it's his son's house. The town plans to look into it.
Fabry commented on the matter, "I didn't know he was selling junk. It's never come to my attention before. At least I couldn't prove he was selling junk."
With a deadline of next Monday to shut down his vegetable stand, Joey tries to keep a positive outlook. He admits that as a kid, it's all very confusing.
"As a child, I look up to adults and I don't get why they're stopping a young entrepreneur that's trying to make some money."
Joey and his supporters plan to ask the town for a special use permit so he can continue to operate for the remainder of the growing season.
If he can't, he does have a couple of other options. He could set up at the weekly farmers marketing in Hamlin or sell crop shares and deliver his veggies directly to customers.