On Monday, May 13, Cluck!, the humble little urban farming supply store that’s caused the big controversy, was granted the zoning variance necessary for it to open at 399 Broadway – for the second time. Though the same variance was granted once before, it was appealed and overturned by a cabal of opponents whose motivations ranged from at best self-serving to at worst transparently spiteful and spurious. Now, proprietor Drake Patten once again has the green light from the Zoning Board of Review and has reached an agreement to assuage the concerns of one of the main objectors, Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church across the street. If the subsequent 20-day appeal period passes without incident – which, at least for the moment, it seems as if it will – then Cluck! will be open for business.
I would like to use this column to send a message to those opponents: I suspect we haven’t heard the last of you, but for the moment it seems that you’ve lost your battle – and you deserved to. How could you not lose? Shame on you. This ridiculous charade you staged in order to get your way – raising trivial objections, speculating about unrealistic hypotheticals, trying to invalidate Patten’s progress on ridiculous technicalities and generally just braying like hysterical children – could not conceal the fact that you had painted yourself a rhetorical corner. You essentially forced yourself into the position of arguing that an abandoned gas station was somehow better for the neighborhood than a gardening supply store.
That a small business owner should have to endure months of legal fights, backbiting and fear mongering, rack up exorbitant legal fees and rally the support of hundreds of neighbors simply to earn the right to sell seeds and garden tools in a once blighted property that she has remodeled and revitalized is patently absurd and sends a terrible message about the cost of doing business in our fair city.
The fact is that you represent the forces of the old guard – and the old guard is, well, old. Your way of doing things is no longer acceptable and your vision of what the neighborhood should be is out of touch with reality. Those of us who actually live and work in the neighborhood will continue in our efforts to make it thriving and vibrant, and we will not be deterred by the obstinance and chicanery of people who either don’t live here or only pretend to (oh yeah, we see you). You operate in darkness and shadow, while we shine a light on the West Side. Now stand aside and let progress happen.