Grow Compost in Moretown, VT. Photo: Rachel Goff

At their meeting on Thursday, August 6, the Moretown Select Board moved to pay their share of the mediation costs resulting from the town's appeal of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources' (ANR) decision to revoke Grow Compost of Vermont's solid waste certification. The mediation, which is expected to cost about $3,500, will be split four ways between the town, Grow Compost, Moretown Landfill and the ANR.

Moretown's attorney, Ron Shems, filed an appeal of the ANR's decision to revoke Grow Compost's solid waste certification on July 13 as a way to protect the town until it understood the effects of the change.

In a letter to Grow Compost's abutting landowners that went out last month, Ben Gauthier of the ANR Solid Waste Management Program explained that the agency approved the Route 2 facility's request to revoke its solid waste certification because it "had ceased directly composting solid waste and instead had switched their process to feed all food scraps to laying chickens."

The remaining uneaten food scraps and chicken manure, Gauthier explains, are then composted on site. Feeding chickens, the ANR stated, is an "agricultural activity," and because Grow Compost is composting "only manures and high-carbon feedstocks, the [Solid Waste Management Program] no longer has jurisdiction over the composting process or the facility," Gauthier said.

"I think the immediate policy issue is that if the ANR is going to let go of jurisdiction there needs to be ... some transition," Shems told the select board at their meeting on July 20, explaining that the town is not sure whether it can or wants to be responsible for regulating the Route 2 facility.

According to Grow Compost owners Lisa Ransom and Scott Baughman, who also attended the July 20 meeting, with all of the changes taking place with Act 250, "the state doesn't really know what to do with composters anymore," Ransom said, explaining that as far as she knows the ANR does not yet have a way to monitor the growing industry.