COPAKE–The state Department of Agriculture and Markets has decided not to decide right now whether the town Planning Board review of Salvatore Cascino’s massive building project complies with state law.
Last November, after a six-month site plan review, the Planning Board rejected Mr. Cascino’s proposal to build several structures on his 300-acre property called Copake Valley Farm.
A resident of Larchmont, Mr. Cascino owns a Bronx-based waste hauling business and has a 12-year history of violating federal, state and town laws on his property located along the east side of Route 22.
Mr. Cascino’s proposal included plans to construct a 24,900 square-foot composting barn, a grain dryer, two 70-foot-high grain storage silos and an 18,500-square-foot run-in shed.
The county Planning Board and the town Planning Board’s agriculture consultant and engineer all recommended rejection of the plan.
But attorney Anna Kirschner, who represented Mr. Cascino before the Planning Board, requested that the state agriculture department, commonly called “Ag and Markets,” determine whether the Planning Board had acted in accordance with the state Agriculture and Markets Law.
In response to that request, William Kimball, director of Agricultural Protection and Development with Ag and Markets, wrote a 10-page letter dated March 11 to Town Supervisor Reggie Crowley and Planning Board Chairwoman Marcia Becker, to say that his department had determined that Mr. Cascino was engaged in a “farm operation.” Because of that, Mr. Kimball said the Planning Board’s site plan review process should have been expedited and was “unreasonably restrictive.”
In light of Mr. Cascino’s history as a scofflaw, the Kimball letter provoked outraged reactions from State Senator Steve Saland (R-41st), Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro (R-103rd), the Columbia County Democratic Committee and members of the Copake Town Board, all of whom wrote to Governor David Paterson demanding his personal intervention with Ag and Markets on behalf of the people of Copake.