Sen. DiPalma Seeks to Tighten DEM Compost Permitting Rules
The situation stems from the ongoing dispute between Crandall Road neighbors and a local landscaping business, Tiger Tree Co.
State Sen. Louis DiPalma (D-Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) introduced a bill related to timely manner of how the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) issues compost facility permits in an properly zoned area. It will be heard later today in the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture in Room 212 of the State House.
Reached late Tuesday night, DiPalma said the issue stems from how the DEM authorized a composting permit last May for James Pelletier of Tiger Tree Co., a landscaping company located on Crandall Road near Adamsville. Pelletier's been in a tense dispute with his Crandall Road neighbors since 2005 over his business operation and what his land is zoned for.
"It's not a great situation to put it that way," DiPalma said. "Based on what's been done here, the DEM has pseudo-figuratively rewritten Tiverton's zoning laws."
If put into law, DiPalma's bill, which is attached to this post, would tell people looking to do any composting facilities (agricultural or solid waste) they have to get that permit granted by the state. It states, through a 30-day timetable, the need to verify where that composting operation is going, and if the town's zoning laws conform to the application.
"No one wants to stand in the way of farmers or farming," DiPalma said, adding that DEM's controversial issuance of a compost permit to Tiger Tree is the ninth one they've ever granted.
"Now, nowhere in that town of Tiverton is this permitted," DiPalma added about Tiger Tree. "I think Tiger Tree had tried to go get the zoning changed so it could be permitted."
A call seeking comment was made to DEM Director Janet Coit's office.
"The DEM over and over again violates their own policies and procedures," said Crandall Road neighbor Joanne Moniz, who's been involved with the dispute. "They think they're above the law. They're interfering with our civil rights because the town of Tiverton is trying to enforce their zoning."
Tiger Tree v. Town of Tiverton
The dispute began in 2005 when neighbors complained about the noise and scale of James Pelletier's tree and landscaping operation at Tiger Tree, with trucks reportedly hauling large amounts of compost in and off of the property at irregular hours. Neighbors also claim the scale of Pelletier's operation doesn't conform with the town's R-80 zoning designation.
The neighbors sued and then Pelletier filed a countersuit claiming their actions are personal and affecting his business operating a nursery. The town also filed a civil suit. In 2009, Pelletier was reportedly found guilty in Muncipal Court for illegal composting, which he appealed to Newport Superior Court. Town Solicitor Andy Teitz said Judge Melanie Thunberg denied a motion for the case to the be dismissed back in October, and now the trial awaits testimony from the defense.
A call seeking comment from Pelletier's attorney Michael Kelly was not returned.