The retail store was destroyed by fire in November 2016
VICTOR — More than a year after its retail store was destroyed by fire, The Apple Farm on Route 444 is still operating out of an existing storage and production building.
On Tuesday, Victor Town Planning Board members gave operator Bejan Bahai the go-ahead to continue doing so for the next six months — and indefinitely, if he can raise the funding to make needed improvements.
“His (temporary site plan approval) would have expired at the end of the month,” said Victor Planning Board Chair Ernie Santoro. “We don’t want to see him fail. We wanted to give him extra time to get into his season and to do what he has to do. It needs some refinement and bring it up to code.”
Bahai is the son of Munir Bahai, who launched the 142-acre you-pick apple business in the early 1970s.
Over more than four decades 1640 Route 444 became a popular seasonal destination for apples, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, hiking trails, disc golf and a petting zoo.
But in the early hours of Nov. 4, 2016, an arsonist’s blaze leveled The Apple Farm’s retail store. A year later, in early December, 57-year-old Karen Bahai, the ex-wife of the owner, was charged with intentionally starting that fire amid what family members said was a contentious divorce.
Now, Bahai’s plans include running his 16- by 30-foot hilltop retail store surrounded by acres of orchards, along with an adjacent 8- by 16-foot mobile kitchen.
Bahai told Planning Board members Tuesday that funding was available but not yet in hand, Santoro said. That funding is expected to be in place and upgrades made within the next two months, he said.
Firefighters were called to 1640 Route 444 at least one other time in recent history. On a November 2014 afternoon the Bahai family’s century-old barn was ignited by floating embers from a nearby brush fire. That blaze, unlike the one in November 2016, was quickly contained and extinguished, with no injuries and only minor damage reported.