Residents renew opposition to Charlotte large farm

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(Host) A group of Charlotte residents has renewed its opposition to a dairy farm expansion. The Hinsdale family is continuing to seek a large farm permit for a new barn and a manure pit. But “Citizens for Safe Farming” has concerns about possible air and water pollution from the large dairy operation.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Citizens for Safe Farming is made up of Charlotte residents concerned about the impact of large dairy operation on the small Bingham Brook Valley. Peter Joslin is president of the organization. For him, the main concern is the impact of manure and agriculture chemicals that could leak into a groundwater aquifer.

Joslin hopes a compromise can be reached that allows the farm to expand, and protects the neighbors’ water supply.

(Joslin) “I’ve always felt that there’s a way that we can find middle ground and both be satisfied with what happens in the valley. We’re not in any way, shape or means against farming. We just feel that it should be appropriate to that area, based on what the land can handle, the proximity to other homes. And the uniqueness of that area, which is the aquifer and the brook there.”

(Dillon) The group recently asked farm owner Clark Hinsdale to agree to limits on his farm expansion. They want him to install groundwater testing equipment to monitor wells. They’ve asked him to guarantee that the neighbors’ water won’t be polluted. And they want him to install a sealed liner in the 2.4 acre manure pit that’s designed to hold 900,000 cubic feet of animal waste.

(Joslin) “I think that frankly we felt very positive about our open letter because we pretty much put everything out on the table about what our concerns are.”

(Dillon) Hinsdale says his family has bought another farm on Route 7, which will be the main focus of the dairy operation. But he says wants a state large farm permit for the valley location to keep his options open.

(Hinsdale) “At some point, if we’re not allowed to farm in the valley, it will be for sale. So the reason we’re continuing with the permitting process is a) we want to know whether or not we can get a permit to farm in the valley. And b) I’m not going to desert the other 1,500 dairy farmers in Vermont by letting a group of people scare a responsible farm away for applying for an LFO permit.”

(Dillon) According to Hinsdale, he’s offered to meet with the opponents, but they’ve refused. Joslin says that’s not the case, and that the group has met several times with Hinsdale in an attempt to reach a compromise.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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