(Host) Some residents of Charlotte worry that a proposed large dairy farm is far too big for their neighborhood and could pollute their well water. On Friday, the neighbors raised questions about the proposal during a hearing on the project’s proposed manure pit.
VPR’s John Dillon reports.
(Dillon) Over the years, the Hinsdale family of Charlotte subdivided their property into several neighborhoods of single family homes. They want to expand their dairy operation to house eventually 2,500 cows. Many of the neighbors worry that the Hinsdale farm project could pollute the groundwater with manure and toxic pesticides.
On Friday, about two dozen people turned out against the project at a hearing held by the local Natural Resource Conservation Council. The council has five members and it will review the Hinsdale’s agricultural dam permit. The manure pit will cover one and a half acres.
Neighbor Jane Ann Kantor said she had a very personal reason to be concerned. Kantor, a registered nurse, is expecting her second child in September. She warned that the high levels of nitrates found in manure are dangerous to very young children if they get into the water:
(Kantor) “If the nitrates from this waste pit get into my well, my baby and other infants could suffer from blue baby syndrome. Blue baby syndrome is when nitrates replace oxygen in the blood and the baby suffers from oxygen depletion.”
(Dillon) Several neighbors said that plans for the manure pit show it could leak 1,000 gallons a day. Bill Leckerling told the Council the soil testing for the manure pit is incomplete and that the hearing was premature.
(Leckerling) “This dam is designed to hold over 500,000 cubic feet of liquid manure, which contains various pesticides, chemicals, BST and insecticides, which is going to permeate into the soils of the surrounding neighborhoods, which were developed by the Hinsdales, the applicants. When you think about the public good and the discharge to the existing surrounding residential areas, you must determine what’s going to happen with what flows out of that dam.”
(Dillon) Farmer Clark Hinsdale III said his family’s dairy operation has to get bigger. He said he’s committed to designing the project so it’s safe for the neighborhood:
(Hinsdale) “We have made substantial changes in the application as a result of the input that we’ve had so far from the community. And we are continuing that particular process with the planning commission, the Selectboard, as well as with other permitting entities. So it’s our goal and our job to meet and exceed all of these standards for environmental protection.”
(Dillon) Besides the dam permit, the Hinsdales also need a large farm permit from the state.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Charlotte.