The Moretown Select Board is seeking answers as to the how and why of Grow Compost’s state permits being revoked.
Last week the District 5 Environmental Commission issued a decision that terminates Grow Compost’s Act 250 permit at the request of Grow Compost owners Lisa Ransom and Scott Baughman. The owners asked for the revocation in 2015 noting that they were now an all-agricultural operation versus a commercial operation and were using chickens to consume food waste.
At the time, the town of Moretown raised concerns about the change, wanting to know how chickens could consume the amount of food waste that was being sent to the Route 2 facility. A state wastewater permit was terminated in 2015, which Moretown challenged in court. The town also filed arguments with the District 5 Environmental Commission objecting to the termination of the company’s Act 250 permit.
“We’re concerned that the Act 250 revocation didn’t take into consideration the concerns we’ve been waiting to have addressed for over two years,” said select board chair Tom Martin.
“In July 2015, our lawyer tried to follow up on that with Act 250 and our rebuttal was accepted. We asked why this business could be considered entirely agricultural and not subject to state permits. Then the commission sat on this for almost two years and then the coordinator left and this letter gets sent out,” he added, referring to the October 31 decision revoking the Act 250 permit.
“We feel there’s been a huge breakdown in process,” he added.
Moretown’s attorney is looking into the process of appealing the Act 250 revocation as well as a way for the town to participate in another upcoming hearing on Grow Compost permits.
After the October 31 Act 250 decision was issued, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Watershed Management Division informed all parties that Grow Compost’s multisector general permit had not been revoked. That revocation is on hold while Jamie Bates, environmental analyst for the state’s stormwater program, conducts a technical review.
“We have a process for terminations in house. When we approve terminated permits, we send out a letter of confirmation. Until you receive a letter of confirmation, you still have to abide by your permit,” Bates wrote via email.
In a phone interview, Bates said that the review she is conducting is mainly an internal process.
“Public comment can come when a facility is applying for a new permit or a renewal, but terminations are usually an in-house decision. There’s not really a public comment period,” she said.
“Moving forward, what I’m going to do is discuss this in office to understand the situation a little more, as well as understand the Act 250 process, to understand why other permits were revoked,” she explained.
Asked whether the town’s concerns will be considered, she said, “Those are the same questions I’m trying to figure out.”
A multisector general permit is a permit that covers stormwater discharge from commercial/industrial activities. Its issuance and conditions are based on the primary activity of a facility, which is determined by the primary revenue of that facility.
She said that she expects an internal meeting to discuss the case in December.