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Appeals court upholds decision to allow golf course brewery in Halfmoon

Appeals court upholds decision to allow golf course brewery in Halfmoon

Appeals court upholds decision to allow golf course brewery in Halfmoon
Hank Hudson Brewing Company in September, which was at the center of the dispute
Photographer: Peter R. Barber/Gazette Photographer

HALFMOON -- A decision to allow the Fairways of Halfmoon to create an on-site brewpub has been upheld.

The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court on Thursday found the Halfmoon Planning Board was within its rights to allow the construction of a brewery as part of an extension of a special use permit that allowed a restaurant & bar to be added to the clubhouse in the 1990s.

The golf club’s owners received approval from the board to add a brewpub to the site's banquet facility on May 8.  The brewpub, Hank Hudson Brewing Company, has since opened at the course.

"The Planning Board conducted a review process in which it considered the factors set forth by the zoning code, and ultimately allowed the proposed brewpub with conditions intended to minimize its negative impact on neighbors and ensure that it would function as a permitted amenity of the golf club rather than a 'stand alone business,'" the appeals court found. 

Several Halfmoon residents filed a lawsuit challenging the board's decision to allow the 18-hole golf course on Johnson Road to create the brewery. Residents Joseph Micklas Jr. and Donna Micklas, who live on Raylinksy Lane, and James Frederick Hopeck and Maria Jean Hopeck, who live on Johnson Road, were part of the suit.

They claimed that a brewpub was not allowed under the course’s agriculture-residence zoning and is “in no way an accessory or incidental use to a golf course." They argued the approval was “an error of law and an abuse of the Planning Board’s discretion.”

The lawsuit sought to have annulled the board’s site plan approval of a 1,967-square-foot addition to house a “beer manufacturing facility and expand the existing restaurant and pro shop." 

Prior to filing the lawsuit, the Micklases wrote letters to the Halfmoon director of code enforcement asking whether any brewpub could be built in a district zoned agricultural-residential under the town's building code. 

The town responded that the building code did not speak to where a building could be constructed, then added in a second letter that the office did not deal with zoning issues and that such questions must be directed to the Planning Board, according to the appeals court ruling.

The Halfmoon Zoning Board of Appeals then upheld the code enforcement office's interpretation.

The final decision outlines the history of the actions taken by the plaintiffs, which include two legal proceedings, one challenging the Planning Board's determination and the other challenging the Zoning Board of Appeal's determination.

Construction of the brewery went forward despite the lawsuit and Hank Hudson Brewing Co. opened in September. The pub was built using materials from a old barn located down the road and there is a patio that overlooks the golf course, along with a row of seats placed right in front of the massive silver brewing tanks, that will allow customers to be near the brewing process as it goes on.

Halfmoon's town attorney, who represented the Planning Board in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. The Fairways of Halfmoon also did not return a request for comment on the ruling.

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