Hinsdale hopes for settlement of large farm permit

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(Host) A Charlotte farmer says a ruling against his proposed large farm may lead to new negotiations with neighbors who oppose the project. This week, Vermont’s Agriculture Agency denied the permit for farmer Clark Hinsdale to operate a 684-cow farm. Hinsdale says he plans to speak with his neighbors to resolve their concerns.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Clark Hinsdale says he’s disappointed that the Agriculture Agency ruled against his request for a large farm permit. But he says he’d like to work with his neighbors to address their worries about potential pollution from the farm.

(Hinsdale) “Our fondest hope is that we’ll have an opportunity to re-establish a dialog with neighbors and perhaps come to a plan for the future of the valley that everyone can feel good about.”

(Dillon) Although the neighbors argued that pollution from Hinsdale’s two proposed manure pits would contaminate their ground water, Agency Secretary Steve Kerr found that the pits would be safe.

However, the state ruled that Hinsdale didn’t have enough land available to safely spread the farm waste. Hinsdale says he hasn’t decided whether to drop the project, appeal the permit, or to try to address the agency’s concerns with a new application.

(Hinsdale) “We’re going to take some time to think about it. Obviously if we chose the appeal route, we’ve got to think about it within the next 30 days. But we’re going to let the dust settle and see whether a dialog re-emerges with the neighborhood and just kind of get a little distance from the emotion of the moment and then decide whether we appeal, whether we re-apply or whether we just live with the result.”

(Dillon) Citizens for Safe Farming, a Charlotte neighborhood group, had opposed the Hinsdale application. Steve Kantor is a member of the group and says the organization has met with the farmer several times and is willing to negotiate again.

(Kantor) “But the problem in the past from our point of view is that they have never indicated any willingness to be flexible in the amount of cows they want to have in this farm. Now that the state has indicated that the amount that they proposed has been denied, maybe we can have a better discussion on that.”

(Dillon) According to Kantor, the fundamental problem with the Hinsdale project was that he proposed too many animals on not enough land. However, the state says Hinsdale may be able to solve the problems in his manure management plan and get a permit.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

In a story this week, we cited an earlier proposal on the number of cows planned for the Hinsdale farm. That number exceeded the final application, which was for 684 cows.

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