Owners of Rockland farm say town unexpectedly closed one of their greenhouses
The owners of a decades-old family farm in Rockland County are sharing their story after the town closed one of their greenhouses this weekend.
It was an unforgettable Small Business Saturday for Van Houten Farms in Orangetown.
"The town picked Small Business Saturday to come in and shut the greenhouse down, and essentially closed the cidery for the winter," says Darin Van Houten, of Van Houten Farms.
An Orangetown fire inspector found alleged violations deeming the building unsafe.
Van Houten did not say what those violations were but did say they will hurt the more than 50-year-old family business that gets creative to grow a profit.
"That's devastating. The whole idea of the cidery is to help fill the gaps between our busy seasons at the farm," he says.
Supervisor Teresa Kenny says the inspector visited the property after a county highway worker called in concern over parking.
The inspector went and saw a "bar, heater, string lights, a band" and a lot of "people" inside the greenhouse.
"I have complete trust that the town fire inspector did what was necessary for the health and safety of the patrons and as required by law," said Kenny.
Van Houten says the greenhouse is typically used for plants in the spring and that safety concerns have been fixed in the past.
"There were customers in the greenhouse, which there has been since that greenhouse was erected probably over 30 years ago. That greenhouse was inspected years ago by the fire inspector. He advised us to put fire extinguishers and exit signs up, which we did," he said.
The small farm now fears it may face a new issue.
The rest of the business is still open, and Rockland Cider will be served outside, weather permitting.