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Pasture neighbors: don’t have a cow, man!

  • Neighbors voiced concerns about a proposal to graze cattle on town-owned conservation land off Cheney Avenue during the Select Board's meeting on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Neighbors voiced concerns about a proposal to graze cattle on town-owned conservation land off Cheney Avenue during the Select Board's meeting on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Neighbors voiced concerns about a proposal to graze cattle on town-owned conservation land off Cheney Avenue during the Select Board's meeting on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, May 17, 2018

Neighbors of a town-owned field off Cheney Avenue in Peterborough turned out to Tuesday night’s Select Board meeting to raise objections to a request from a resident who wants to use the field for cattle grazing.

“As the abutters, no one else is the steward of this land, we are,” said Steve Fox of Orchard Hill Road. “That field wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for us. It would be forest.”

Stan Fry of Peterborough came before the Select Board May 1 and asked if he could lease the field for the purpose of grazing up to a dozen of his beef cattle. During the meeting the possibility of a 15-year lease was discussed. 

The board was meeting on the matter Tuesday to schedule a site walk and set deadlines for feedback from the Conservation Commission and Agricultural Committee. Grazing has been allowed on town land before, but this field is also conservation land – which doesn’t have a precedent for private use in Peterborough. 

Neighbors of the field packed the meeting room Tuesday evening asking why they haven’t been asked for feedback. Many said they opposed the cattle grazing, none said they approved of it. 

Selectman Tyler Ward said the request had only been made to the board on May 1 and that before asking for public comment the board wanted to consult the town’s lawyer and  with the Conservation Commission -- which is responsible for the management of the field -- to see if it was something the town wanted to pursue.

Selectwoman Barbara Miller said there was no “favoritism” being showed to Fry and that the board would be going through the same process with any request to lease the land for agricultural use.

“You say anyone could come in and do this. No one’s done it until now,” said Carl Staley of Orchard Hill Road. “To me, your process is flawed. You really need a process in place for someone to come in and suggest taking private ownership or lease of land.”

Conservation Commission Chairwoman Francie Von Mertens said the commission doesn’t have an opinion on the matter yet.

“We had a site visit on Thursday, and our conclusion is it’s important that the potential leasee has experienced that field,” Von Mertens said. 

Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett is in the process of setting up a site walk with Fry to do just that, she said. Once Fry has walked the field, she said, the commission would like to see a more complete plan, that includes the amount of cattle, placement of fencing and water sources, and any other infrastructure details, before it is prepared to issue an opinion.

“It’s premature to discuss it before we know a lot more,” she said.

Assistant Town Administrator Nicole MacStay said the board would continue to work to determine what uses are allowed on the field under the deed and conservation easement.

The Select Board has set a tentative site walk date of June 5. 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.