Friday, March 8, 2002
Foss Farm trail and compost proposal gets negative reception
An ambitious proposal from Joseph Campagna, who was seeking approval for creation of a new trail together with a compost storage area at Foss Farm, received a negative response from the conservation commission and abutters on February 28.
Campagna, who owns Heater Pearce Farm, has cleared a holding area and constructed a barn with a six-horse capacity in the triangle formed by Bedford Road, Foss Way and River Road. In a preliminary account of his plans, Campagna gave the commission a 24-page packet of materials that included photographs of a site opposite his property where he proposed to clear a new trail into Foss Farm, drawings of planned manure-composting bins and "Good Neighbor" guides to manure management and composting from the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture and Washington State University. He indicated he was offering to develop and maintain a trailway that would run between land owned by Richard Warner and the Foss Farm boundary and connect with the existing trail network on the town's Foss Farm Land. He saw the new trail as allowing easy safe walking access for neighborhood residents and office workers as well as providing a convenient entrance point for his horses and a manure wagon.
As for the composting facility, Campagna said he was volunteering his time and resources to design, build and manage it "in accordance with good agricultural and conservation procedures." Design drawings showed a three-bin holding area built on a concrete slab that would prevent any nitrogen overload from permeating the soil. To follow requirements outlined by U.S. Department of Agriculture representative Dan Lenthal, the composting area would have to be 200 feet from any wetland border.
Describing his vision of the composting operation as a benefit to gardeners in the community plots at Foss Farm as well as to other horticulturists and horse owners in the town at large, Campagna said he was willing to assume responsibility for technically sound and environmentally friendly operation of the facility.
Campagna's enthusiasm received a setback when commissioner Roy Watson read a letter to the board from veterinarian Peter Morey who was opposed to any trail entrance fronting directly on heavily traveled Bedford Road, believing it to be "a hazard for horse, rider and automobiles." As former owner of a 20-horse stable, Morey described the unpredictability of the animals when spooked, and recommended that the commission check with police chief David Galvin on his department's feeling "as to the safety of all concerned."
Morey was even more strongly opposed to the composting offer, pointing out that the six horses would produce approximately 36 to 42 tons of manure a year and questioned, "How much mulch can be used in one year?" Also, with the new access roadway to the manure bins being open, anyone else in town would have the right to bring manure and all other forms of compost to add to the pile. Finally, as an abutter, Morey wrote, "I strongly object to a private citizen using this area for private or commercial use."
Abutter Dana Booth joined the opposition, observing that a dangerous precedent would be set that could create a possible "flood of special interest requests" for use of conservation lands.
Richard Warner, whose property line abuts the proposed trailway, was concerned about the aesthetics of the design and the invitation for vehicles of all sorts to use it for any number of reasons.
When chair Tom Brownrigg called for a "sense of the commission," first on the trailway proposal, all six members present indicated strong reservations, with commissioner Jon Beakley declaring that he saw no public benefit to the proposal and Peter Burns following up with the observation that, "It's completely for your benefit." Watson not only doubted the safety of the crossing but felt the town might leave itself open to lawsuits were accidents to occur.
A counting of heads on the composting idea elicited equally negative comments. From Burns, "I would like to hear about people in the community who want manure or the compost from it." From Jo Rita Jordan, "It's more manure than the town can handle." From Brownrigg, "Supply would exceed demand; it would become uncontrollable."
Disappointed at the negative assessment, Campagna exhibited a philosophical attitude. To implications that he was out to create a trail for private benefit he observed, "I'm offering a lot in return," and added, "This was a volunteer activity, but if it's out, I can accept that."
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito