You got a permit for that art on your front lawn?


KINDERHOOK–The School, a gallery on Broad Street, can exhibit sculptures on its front lawn. That was the decision of the reached by the village Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), which upheld Code Enforcement Officer Glen Smith’s ruling on the sculpture’s at the ZBA meeting last week.

Village residents packed the October 26 meeting at Village Hall and many spoke during the public hearing about The School and the village zoning law. Jack Shainman, owner of The School gallery, attended the meeting.

Mr. Shainman bought the former Martin Van Buren School from the Ichabod Crane School district in 2012. He received a special use permit from the village Planning Board with the designation as a “cultural center” so that he could operate an events space where he could exhibit artwork, including larges sculptures.

Mr. Smith allowed Mr. Shainman to put the sculpture on his front lawn last summer after reviewing the rulings from the Planning Board and ZBA, which did not restrict outdoor art.

Village resident Bonnie Shannon asked the ZBA to reverse Mr. Smith’s decision to allow a sculpture, which is currently on display on the lawn at The School. She said under the zoning law there is a restriction on what can go in front yards in residential districts. The School is in a residential district.

In a letter to the board and at the meeting, Ms. Shannon said that Mr. Shainman should have asked for a special use permit and a variance before exhibiting the piece.

“This appeal is not about the appropriateness of the use, it is about the determination process,” she wrote in her letter. “The Zoning Code is a covenant among the members of the community. It is our obligation as citizens to adhere to the requirements of the code and to speak up freely when the code is not being properly enforced.”

“The Planning Board did not discuss sculptures in the front yard,” Mr. Smith said at the meeting. He also emphasized that the board is functioning under a special use permit that the boards gave The School in 2012.

“I did my due diligence,” he told the board, “I feel as though I did an adequate job of allowing Mr. Shainman to put that temporary sculpture on the front lawn.”

The ZBA agreed with Mr. Smith and upheld his ruling. ZBA Chair David Sullivan spoke about the extensive review both the Planning Board and ZBA did before Mr. Shainman was granted a special use permit for the gallery. He said there had been a letter about sculpture in the file from 2012 but the Planning Board made no restrictions for sculptures in the permit.

Members of the community who spoke were generally in support of keeping the sculpture, though some did talk about upholding the zoning laws or changing them if necessary. Resident Andrew Pellettieri said, “I hope that the board could find a way to acknowledge the appeal and acknowledge the sculpture.”

Resident Nic Ross said he didn’t see why Mr. Shainman would need a permit for the sculpture, since it is temporary. “The code does not fit every situation,” he said of Mr. Smith’s ruling.

Another resident, Rema Bostick, said, “I don’t know why we are nit-picking this kind of thing in this village.”

This is not the first time Mr. Smith has had one of his decisions about The School appealed to the ZBA. Last year, Stuart Peckner, a business owner in the village, came to ZBA to question Mr. Smith’s ruling on banners on The School. At that time the ZBA ruled the banners are allowed in that residential districts but Mr. Shainman would have to get a variance for the size of the banners.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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