By Buffy Calvert

On March 11th, the Andes Planning Board, ever patient and focused, opened a Public Hearing on the purchase of the Andel Inn by the Delaware County Industrial Development Agency which proposes to install an agricultural incubator run by the Chamber of Commerce Development Foundation. The Board, Art Reed, Bill Palmer, Joanne Callahan, John Reynolds, Alex Adelson and Chair, Frank Winkler, gave the lively audience free rein to raise and debate their concerns.

Tina Moshier, the Town Assessor, and three members of the Town Board were present as well as business owners, farmers, restaurateurs, real estate brokers and local citizens of all stripes.

The outline of the incubator with its local produce store, certified kitchen, ageing rooms and classes on food safety, etc. drew enthusiastic responses from many in the overflow audience. The possibility of delivering an overabundance of produce for sale or a beef, lamb or pork carcass for butchery and packaging appealed to many. Someone suggested that they could create networks, putting farmers with extra veggies in touch with restaurants, for example. Bill Duke wondered if caterers could rent space in the certified kitchen to prepare a banquet for a wedding venue. “Absolutely!”

John Schulman, co-owner of Two Old Tarts & One Smart Cookie, raised the question of the new enterprise being tax exempt. This issue sparked a lively debate. The Town Assessor pointed out that since they had missed the deadline for tax relief in 2018 (March 1st), they would be paying full taxes this year. She promised that she was ready to sit down with the incubator and negotiate their tax status. Several farmers and small business owners pointed out that they had to pay even if it was a struggle, that the store (22% of the building) was a for-profit venture and should pay its “fair share” to keep the town healthy and the school open. Town Supervisor Bud Gladstone pointed out, “It is not unheard of for part of a building to pay a tax.” IDA chief Jim Thomson said he was prepared to “come up with a formula”. Maybe a “pilot” (Payment In Lieu Of Tax).

Some were concerned about competition. But Kortney Lawlor of Wild Common Wines & Spirits said that customers who are looking for good wine go to other wine shops but come to hers too and, while they’re in town, try out other stores on Main Street. Business brings business. Andy Wos summed up the general feeling, “This makes the pie bigger for everybody!”

The new Agricultural Incubator at the Andel Inn got its permit. ~