Moretown’s appeal of the revocation of Grow Compost’s Act 250 permit got underway formally this week with a telephone conference with the parties and Judge Thomas Walsh.
At that January 8 teleconference, Moretown’s attorney, Ron Shems, presented a series of questions related to the town’s appeal of the permit revocation.
Those questions center around the nature of the work that goes on at Grow Compost as well as procedural questions.
Specifically, Shems asked whether the October 31 decision and revocation order should be vacated because it was not issued by a quorum of the District Commission that heard the matter.
He also asked whether Grow Compost is a farm. This is relevant because in asking for its Act 250 permit to be revoked, Grow Compost argued in 2015 that it no longer needed the state permit because its uses were then all agricultural and agricultural uses are a use by right in Vermont. The owners, Scott Baughman and Lisa Ransom, asked for the revocation on the grounds that they were using chickens to consume the 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.
Grow Compost had previously been permitted through Act 250 and other state regulatory permits as a commercial enterprise. When the company sought the revocation, Moretown responded with concerns about how the company’s previous commercial uses could be completely agricultural and also with concerns about impacts on the environment and adjoining landowners.
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.
This week Shems questioned whether Grow Compost’s composting operation is a commercial development. Grow Compost was awarded a contract this summer to handle the commercial collection of compost from the Central Vermont Solid Waste District and the company also collects commercial compost. Grow Compost does have a second composting facility in the state and is processing compost at that site.
There are also other commercial growing endeavors underway on the Moretown site where Grow Compost uses chickens to process some compost.
Finally, Shems questioned whether other activities on the Grow Compost tract(s), including but not limited to a trucking and equipment facility and/or a dispensary operation, are commercial development requiring an Act 250 permit.
The negotiations that are underway right now involve the parties agreeing on how to get answers to questions. Shems said he expects an agreement shortly. The town’s appeal of the Act 250 decision is being heard de novo in environmental court.