Amenia Considers Permitting a Commercial Composting Operation

The Town of Amenia is considering permitting a commercial composting operation on the border of Amenia and Dover Plains off Route 22 on two parcels, one of which is the former Lopane Nursery.

Leslie Carille, Deputy Commissioner of the Dutchess County Department of Solid Waste Management was invited to the Amenia Town Board meeting on September 3 to make a presentation about composting.  She encouraged the town to consider the application for a large commercial composting operation by a landscaping concern from Westchester County.  The group, Bulfamante Landscaping of New Rochelle, would like to bring grass clippings and leaves from the properties for which they do maintenance.

On their website, http://www.bulfamantelandscaping.com/, they say they are “one of New York’s best landscaping, design, install and maintenance companies. For the past twenty years we have been working on Public Parks, Residential and commercial properties located in Westchester County, Fairfield County, Connecticut and New York City. “

Ms. Carille said that the compost would be regulated based on volume, with over a certain amount being regulated by the DEC.  She said that if anyone is looking for models there is one in Poughkeepsie where they have to compost due to volume.  They have leaf collection that is processed by Duffy Layton in Stanfordville.  

Questions were raised by Town Councilwoman Vicki Doyle about herbicides and pesticided entering the watershed.  Ms. Carille said: “You do not want the leachate to enter into streams, has to be a process for the leachate.  You should not have this operation put it up on a hill or let it run down into wetlands.”  A resident who owns a property adjoining the proposed composting operation said he the “Sweet Peet” composting techique “really stinks,” and that he was concerned that this operation would be unpleasant for neighbors.  The composting proposal would have to apply for a zoning variance to be able to operate.  

The Town of Amenia is having their counsel provide guidelines for dealing with this application. Vicki Doyle told us: “We need to do a full cost/benefit analysis for our community and find out how we can get the best of all worlds for Amenia. The weak link could be enforcement, but if we have money from contractor for sufficient oversight, that might tip the balance in favor. What are people in town supposed to do with their yard waste? Drive it to Poughkeepsie? Will Duffy Layton accept it in Stanfordville?”

We investigated what people in Westchester are doing with their leaves and yard waste.   It appears that Westchester is at the vanguard of mulching in place and several towns are promoting a program called “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em”  (http://www.leleny.org/)  A New York Times story about this practice on November 26, 2013 by Lisa Foderaro (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/nyregion/rake-the-leaves-some-towns-sa...), said that  “The technique involves mowing the leaves with special mulching blades, which shred them into tiny bits. That allows them to quickly decompose and naturally feed lawns and shrubs.”