Saturday, June 6, 2009

Local: Oh, Guano!

Burlington is one of a few cities in this country that promotes farming within its borders. (The city-endorsed Intervale farms are recognised nationally.) The Us vs. Them, turf battle mentality that seems to hold sway - and get sensational press - in City Council and commission meetings just didn't escalate to that level at last night's special Board of Health (I'm a member) hearing. "Oink," you say? Well, indeed, it was about pigs, sea gulls and complaints made by residents in the new north end of town, whose houses are adjacent to Mike Petit's farm at the end of Ethan Allen Parkway. Mr Petit raises pigs and chickens on the 88 acres he leases, and his feeding of them has attracted sea gulls which lie in wait on the rooves of the houses before descending on the farm to feast on food scrap left overs after the pigs have been fed. The board heard testimony from the residents, Code Enforcement staff health officers and Mr Petit. Residents were angered by the gatherings of gulls on roofs and the the crap they left - and said that the value of their homes were effected by it. Code Enforcement stated in their request that there was evidence for issuing a health order, which would have put the onus on Mr Petit to get rid of the gulls. Mr Petit, sympathetic to the residents' complaints, said he didn't want the gulls around either and had met the Vermont Dept of Agriculture guidelines to keep the gulls away from his farm. The Board decided not to issue the health order and asked the residents, the farmer and the city to work collaboratively, instead of spending city money in court, to solve the problem.

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