Friday, July 2, 2004
Manure stockpile raises health and wetland concerns
At its June 24 meeting the Board of Health (BOH) concluded that holding horse manure stockpiles within 100 feet of the wetlands is in violation of the Wetland Protection Act. BOH chair Martha Bedrosian and members Michael Holland and Lisa Davis Lewis voted unanimously to recommend strongly that property owner Ted Vandusen of 515 Brook Street remove the stockpiles within two weeks. If he does not respond, he may face further action.
At its last meeting on June 3, the board had requested that Vandusen delineate the wetlands on his property within ten days.
The discussion of the manure stockpile within wetland buffer zone on the Brook Street property attracted a crowd. Present were homeowner Vandusen, abutter Mitchell Weiss, Conservation Commissioner Tricia Smith, ConsCom Administrator Sylvia Willard and animal owner Melissa Webster, who has taken an unofficial leadership role in helping the BOH pull together manure regulations.
Michael Holland, equipped with maps printed out from the Massachusetts GIS (Geological Information System) online repository, paid a visit to the Brook Street site since the BOH's last meeting. Holland noted that, based on the new property flags that delineated the wetlands buffer zone, the manure stockpiles were within the 80-85 foot range, with an older plan indicating that they were as close as 40 feet away.
"There's a site on the property, where the landowner can move older and current partially composted stockpiles, that is outside of the wetland buffer zone," Holland said. He noted that the location would reduce offending odors to the neighboring Weiss property, and furthermore recommended the addition of covering the pile or building a small wall. However, due to the limited size of the area, with only one-tenth of the property far enough from the wetlands to support composting, hauling the manure offsite would simplify and expedite matters. Holland recommended that Vandusen discuss placement with the Conservation Commission before relocating the stockpiles.
Smith was present and able to address ConsCom concerns on the spot. She believes there are three pieces to the solution: drafting regulations for the future, coming up with a best management solution for the Brook Street case under discussion, and resolving the dispute between neighbors. Smith said, "Manure management and horse keeping are within an area of 'our' jurisdiction. Rather than trying to move existing stockpiles to another location, remove them and design what you will use to manage manure in the future. There's more composting there than you can manage on the site already. You need to submit your plan to the Conservation Commission." Smith noted her particular concern about the drainage of rain through the stockpiles and into the wetlands.
Bedrosian reiterated the need for the homeowner to meet the BOH's outstanding request for a manure-management plan.
After the board voted to recommend the removal within two weeks, Holland requested the addition of an instruction for the homeowner to file appropriate and required documents for the Conservation Commission.
© 2004 The