1250 Broadway, 27th Floor New York, NY 10001


Nathan & Elizabeth Hoogs were granted a special-use permit by the Town of Canaan (Columbia County) allowing them to produce hand-blown glass in an "accessory building" to be constructed on their residential property.

Their next door neighbor, Manfred Ohrenstein, objected to the permit and filed an Article 78 proceeding in the Columbia County Supreme Court contending that the studio did not fit within the Town's "home occupation" parameters and that the use would be at odds with the area's residential character.

When the Supreme Court dismissed Ohrenstein's case, he appealed to the Appellate Division, Third Department, which found the local zoning board's interpretation of the law to be rational and reasonable.

In the Town of Canaan, a "home occupation" is defined as:

"An occupation or profession conducted in any zone subject to the limitations which follow and which:

a) Is customarily carried on within the finished living area of a single family residential dwelling or its accessory building ...

c) Is clearly incidental and secondary to the use of the dwelling unit for residential purpose, and

d) Which conforms to the following additional conditions:

1. The occupation or profession shall be carried on wholly within the principal building or its accessory building" (Town of Canaan Zoning Law, art II, § 31).

Since retail sales would be restricted, the glass-blowing would occur exclusively within a barn-like structure to be erected adjacent to the Hoogses' home, the building would be painted and trimmed to match the residence, the equipment (a furnace and oven) was akin to that found in a residence, and, all activity would be "conducted wholly within the accessory building," the AD3 concluded that the zoning board's grant of a permit was "neither irrational nor lacking the required support of substantial evidence."

In other words, Ohrenstein got blown away by the glass-blowers!

For a copy of the Appellate Division's decision in this case, please use this link: Matter of Ohrenstein v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Town of Canaan