The Town of Granby has received an unsolicited offer to purchase the Evonsion Farm located at 107 East Street. This property was purchased by the town for $2.5 million, and is currently leased to two farmers who raise corn on it for their cattle. The lease is for less than $10,000 a year and yet the town pays out an estimated $100,000 a year for the bond used to purchase the property. I say “estimate” because the original cost was bundled with multiple other expenditures and I’ve been unable to get a figure on the actual payback amount.
Tom Vaughan, a local farmer who owns Rossmore Farm, is a 10-year resident of Granby who lives on his organic farm on Day Street. He also purchased the Davis farm on North Granby Road and has done a great job cleaning it up to start the process of obtaining an organic certification. Vaughan has offered the town $1.25 million for the property that has been devalued since its purchase (as have most properties in Connecticut). Vaughan has offered the town the development rights to the property, which means it can always remain agricultural no matter who owns it. The town can sell those development rights to the state for an additional amount to pay down the debt and the state would also keep it as agricultural. Currently there are zero taxes being collected on the property. Vaughan is planning on investing $1.5 million into the property and $2.3 million into the former Davis farm property. That would mean $80,000 in annual tax income for the town, which would recover the original cost of the property in a much shorter time. The Rossmore Farm would begin production of organic milk, cheese and butter to be sold under the Granby Gold label with a planned wide-spread distribution throughout New England and New York. The combined employment is estimated at 25 jobs.
These figures can be verified from the Development Commission’s 3/12/2018 minutes. granby-ct.gov/development-commission/minutes/development-commission-minutes-16
Since Vaughan is planning on all of his properties, including the Evonsion Farm, being certified organic this means Granby will have the first and only organic dairy farm in Connecticut. This will take some time since the farmers currently leasing the Evonsion Farm use glyphosate (Roundup) on the land. There are 15 known health problems related to glyphosate. It is one of the worst chemicals in the world and it is being sprayed on the corn growing on our town property. It’s time for a change. We need and want a healthier option.
The Board of Selectmen has the power to vote yea or nay on this proposal without the citizens voting their choice. Granby, as all Connecticut towns, is facing a negative financial impact because the state is cutting our funding and thus will negatively affect our local taxes. I say the voters have a right to decide on this because the financial aspects of this sale can have a very positive impact on our town. Please attend the Board of Selectmen meeting and voice your opinion. We do have choices, but we must be heard to exercise those choices.
Please let the voters decide.
The Evonsion Farm, 107 East Street, has been the topic of many discussions lately, and, your constituents, the taxpayers, would appreciate being heard. In 2012, the town packaged the purchase of this land with 11 other projects and asked us to vote. That process was a bit convoluted as the vote included 11 projects with the two most expensive being 107 East Street (3M reserved) and a 3.2M upgrade to the town athletic fields. Many of us wanted certain projects to go forward and were against others but because it was a package plan we voted based on the project most important to us.
We now know that there are two proposals to purchase/lease the land at 107 East Street and we want to be heard. The first proposal is by Westmeadow Farm, owners of Rossmore Farm—the former Davis Farm on 189, to purchase the land for 1.25M without the development rights, meaning the town could retain those rights or sell them to the State of Connecticut.
Westmeadow would invest 1.55M at 107 East Street to start a certified organic grass fed dairy farm on the property, using the milk produced at that farm as the main ingredient for products made and sold at Rossmore Farm or a farmstore on route 189.
The second proposal by House of Hayes proposes to lease the land to grow silage for 25 years at a starting rate of $10,000 per year increasing annually at 1 percent.
We have heard that the Board of Selectmen may choose to do nothing with these proposals. We live in a democracy and if there is a proposal to purchase town land the taxpayers must be heard. Whether we are for the sale of that land or not, you have not asked us what we’d like to do with that land. We voted to put you in the positions you are in and you hold the highest duty to us. You, the politicians, may cast your votes as well, but in order to speak for us, you must first listen to us. Let the people vote!
I have addressed the Board of Selectmen on this issue so I’ll summarize here:
The Town should let residents have a final say on the future of 107 East St. We voted for the Town to purchase it, and we should be allowed to vote on its sale or lease. That’s been the general rule as long as I have lived here, over 40 years so far. My BOS presentation was to inform them of the environmental sustainability of the Westmeadow proposal, and the opposition to continue with the current use, which is a non-sustainable method of farming the property with the dangerous and damaging use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and GMO plants. There are also the well documented two episodes of Granby residents having their private properties contaminated with liquid manure that was used by the previous lessee. This will not occur with the sustainable organic method of farming proposed by Westmeadow. The organically sustainable farming method uses no pesticides or chemical fertilizers and the bed- composting system of the manures make it a safe, sane and reliable method that poses absolutely no risk to any property owners in the neighborhood and removes all the liabilities the town had to deal with when liquid manure was irresponsibly sprayed on town and private properties.
The Westmeadow proposal is a safe, sane and responsible use of the property and will be a great addition to the farming community in Granby and Connecticut. It will be the only organic dairy farm in the state, and that is a big plus for Granby. The proposals to the town can be found online or obtained at Town Hall. Please read them and become informed residents.