A tree-cutting business on Route 78 had some Wales residents buzzing this week during a Town Board public hearing.
Scott Redding operates Above and Beyond Tree Service in a part of town that some consider a residential area. But town officials reminded about 80 residents at the meeting that the area has been zoned mixed-use since 1993, allowing businesses under some circumstances along with one- and two-family homes.
The issue came before the board because Redding needs a special-use permit to operate a business there, which he said he learned of after he started operating.
Molly and Bill Hauck, who live next door to Redding, have lived in their home for 40 years. They have complained that Redding has been running a contracting business with wood, trucks, equipment and debris, all in violation of the town codes. They said they were surprised to learn he can run a business there but needs a special-use permit to do so.
Redding said he is new to the area and didn't plan to start a business on the site where he has been building a house for the past 18 months. He said he was not aware of the zoning restrictions when he bought the land.
"When I found out that I could be in violation, I contacted the building inspector right away," he said. "I have cleaned up the site and put in a row of 5-foot pine trees as he suggested."
Redding acknowledged that his property is not "impeccable" but promised to clean up the site. He said he dumps wood chips at other sites and operates his business at other properties but might cut some firewood during the winter at his home to keep busy.
He said he sympathizes with the neighbors and wants to "extend an olive branch to my neighbors, outside of moving my business."
He also said he is building a barn to hide his vehicles.
Some residents said the town needs to do a better job informing the public when it makes changes to town codes and should reconsider the concept of special-use permits.
Supervisor Rickey Venditti defended the town on both counts.
"I sympathize with you, but you don't want to accept that business and residential are allowed to be together," he said.
"The special-use permit is a separate issue, and people need this to operate in a business district," he said. "That's the beauty of it; we can make restrictions under the permit."
Michael Thorpe, a neighbor to both the Haucks and Redding, said he, too, sympathized with the Haucks but said he sided with Redding.
"It's hard to run a business and when the whole town is against you, it's a lot harder," he said, adding, "I understand having a business next to the Haucks' house is upsetting and difficult for both sides, but we need commerce for the community to survive."
The board decided to visit the site of the tree service and talk to neighbors.