By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – State Senator Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester) addressed the issue of agricultural composting while attending the March 12 Board of Selectmen meeting with her legislative delegates.
Town Administrator John Coderre thanked Chandler for filing Senate Bill No. 407 that shifts oversight of all Department of Agricultural Resources-registered compost operations to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) which will mitigate an ongoing issue in Northborough with a farm that is commercially composting on land that is considered a farm.
This bill will aim to ensure zoning compliance and DEP oversight which includes periodic inspections. The goal of this proposed legislation is to regulate all commercial composting operations through DEP in accordance with local land use regulations and zoning.
“The Board of Selectmen testified on Sept. 18, 2017, at a hearing, Coderre said. “Large scale commercial composting just by virtue of being on a farm, it supersedes all local zoning and we don’t feel that is appropriate.”
Further, he said that there is no process for residents or local officials to offer their input and they requested that the oversight be transferred to DEP which was more appropriate. It is a conflict of interest for the regulatory agency to also be in charge of oversight.
“It is in the Senate Ways and Means and we hope to put it on the calendar for debate on a day when we have other agriculture issues,” reported Chandler.