Water board to hear Hinsdale farm case Tuesday night

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(Host) Neighbors opposed to a large farm project in Chittenden County say they’ll continue their fight, despite the farmer’s plans to move some of the animals to another location. The state Water Resources Board has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday in the large farm case.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The Hinsdale family of Charlotte owns a number of farms in southern Chittenden County. They recently added to their land holdings with the purchase of the Nordic Farm, a 583-acre spread on Route 7.

Clark Hinsdale says the new property could be used to house replacement stock for a large barn and milking operation he plans to build about six miles away. That proposal has drawn opposition from neighbors who are concerned that a 1.7-acre manure pit will pollute their drinking water. Hinsdale hopes he can satisfy their concerns by moving some animals away from the site.

(Hinsdale) “The hope is to try to work with the town, and with the neighborhood, to reduce the impact of our farm by essentially dividing the campus to have part of the animals in one place and part in another. So there isn’t such a potentially big dairy campus all in one place.”

(Dillon) But the neighbors aren’t satisfied. Bill Leckerling lives near the proposed large farm.

(Leckerling) “It really doesn’t seem to have changed anything, when the application as we understand it that’s going in before the agriculture commissioner is the same, which still has the manure which is 1.7 acres and holds 5 million gallons of manure. And that’s really what concerns the neighbors. The fact that he’s bought more acreage up on the Nordic Farm really doesn’t resolve anything as far as I can tell.”

(Dillon) Hinsdale sold house lots to many of the neighbors who are now fighting his farm project. The land was sold with deed restrictions that Hinsdale says prevent the neighbors from taking legal action against his farm. But Leckerling says the deed restrictions apply to an existing 486-acre farm, not the 1,000-acre farm Hinsdale has proposed. He says the big problem is the manure pit that could threaten the ground water.

(Leckerling) “It’s going to hold 5 million gallons of manure in a valley he developed as a real estate developer.”

(Dillon) Leckerling and other neighbors have appealed a permit that Hinsdale needed for a dam to hold back the manure. The appeal was filed with the Water Resources Board. At Tuesday’s Water Resources Board hearing, Hinsdale’s lawyer will try to transfer the appeal to Superior Court.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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