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Information for Michaels' Heirloom Barn Law Application to renovate the Old Christmas Barn into a Craft Beverage Mfg. and Retail Business.

Final Thank you to supporters:

Dear Friend of the Mill,

I am writing to let you know that the Town of Otsego Planning Board unanimously voted down our proposal for a Craft Beverage Production and Sales facility in the old “Christmas Barn” next to the Mill.   During the discussion we were told that the beverage production was a major factor so before the vote we offered to remove that provision which would have only allowed for retail sales.  Still the board voted all no. 

We decided not to challenge the decision as it was unlikely to be overturned as Home Rule is a powerful tool. 

The process we endured was both enlightening, costly and sadly it did not turn out the way we intended.  We did make modifications to the plan from the board’s feedback but never during the 5-month process did we have the understanding that the plan would fail so drastically.

As time passed our proposal turned into a referendum on our existing business.   Negative complaints and comments about the Mill regarding traffic, noise, smell and alleged decreased area property values were heard and responded to with additional submissions.  

My observation is that many Board members did not review our submittals nor had additional questions.   Never did a planning board member nor alternate wish to view the project in person nor suggest alterations to help achieve success. 

My take-aways from this process are that we now know the opinions of many fellow Fly Creekers.  Sadly, selective enforcement and application of our Town Land Use Law is on-going.  Most important is that we have many supporters of our small family agri-business and we are truly grateful that you supported our project.  Support far outweighed opposition and we are grateful for your help.

Thank you very much!

-Bill Michaels


Message after Planning Board Decision:

Dear Friends of the Mill,

Last evening the Town of Otsego Planning Board denied our application under the Heirloom Barn Law.

After a lengthy review and discussion of our 2nd submission it was apparent that the board would not support the proposal.

Recognizing this we withdrew the requested use of craft beverage production leaving only retail. 

The board continued not to support the application and it was denied 7 – 0.

We have until July 4 to file an Article 78 to potentially overturn the decision which will require consultation with our Attorney. 

What concerns me the most is that the entire application process became a referendum on the Fly Creek Cider Mill.    I was unaware of the strong, local opposition to our operation and this process surely drew the line among the neighbors.   Neighbors who moved in as recently as two years ago with full knowledge of our operation climbed aboard the anti-wagon.  

From what was said the Mill is the source of all traffic, speeding, noise, light, odors and loss of property values in the Hamlet.    While I know that this was a small vocal group it still has the same impact. 

Growing up here in Fly Creek and continuing the operation of the Mill has always been a source of pride until last night.

I thank you all again for your support!




Original Application Background:

Our application to renovate and use the old Christmas Barn next to the Mill as a possible Craft/Farm Beverage Manufacturing and Retail business.   Our plan is for the Town of Otsego to allow the USE through the existing Heirloom Barn Law so we may then proceed with the necessary renovations while seeking all the required licensing and additional permits.  

The Heirloom Barn law section of the Land Use Law states: 

Section 3.15 Heirloom Barns and Buildings: Barns and agricultural buildings older than 60 years and buildings of any kind of older than 110 years add historic and rural character to the Town and merit protection afforded by adaptive rehabilitation for special permitted uses subject to site plan review to ensure restoration and protection of the historic external appearance and minimum impact on neighbors. Permitted special use of heirloom barns and buildings, for any land use district, included all listed special permitted uses for RA-1, RA-2, H-R, H-B, GB-1, GB,-2 and R/E districts if additional required parking can be masked from roadway and adjacent property view.

The preceding Heirloom Barn Law applicant, Donna Beth Kimmerer, received quick approval with little conflict (minutes below). 

Original February Application

Revised Application April Submission

Site Plan

Elevation Drawings

Survey with contours

Minutes from Kimmerer Application

Minutes from Michaels Application

Town of Otsego Land Use Law

Town of Otsego Comprehensive Plan

SAMPLE letter of Support

Public Comment Letters as of May 1

Support letters after Public Hearing

Map of Support and Opposition

Minutes from Public Hearing and Regular Meeting May 1


Town Board Minutes May 9 REMOVING Heirloom Barn Law

Cider Mill Compliance History - all permits and secret and public meetings with the Town

2nd Submission for June 5 Planning Board Meeting

Planning Board Minutes from June 5 Meeting - final meeting where the NO vote was given

Please note that through the entire application process NONE of the Memebers of the Planning Board asked for a tour of the site. 

Property History:

Paul and Florence Michaels (Bill's Great-Uncle/ Hi Michaels' Brother) - Antique Furniture Store and Refinishing Service - 1958 - late 1970's

John Connor - The Christmas Barn - mid - 1980's

Michael Saracino - The Christmas Barn - operation ended ~ 2006

Federal National Bank - Bank Re-posession - 2017

Fannie Mae - Building for sale - 2017

Bill & Brenda Michaels - Purchased early summer 2017

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