Owner withdraws appeal of cease & desist order for N.S. compost operation

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – A issue that has languished before zoners since early 2020 abruptly came to an end Tuesday night, when the owner of a farm on Buxton Street withdrew his appeal of an order from the town to end composting operations on the property.

Desautel Law, the attorney recently hired by farm owner Frank Jacques for issues surrounding his lot at 300 Buxton St., notified town officials of the decision in a letter received this week.

Zoners were scheduled to hear Jacques’ appeal on Tuesday, May 10, after multiple delays that recently included a change in legal representation.

The town first issued a cease-and-desist order against the Buxton Street business – then known as Buxton Hollow Farm – following multiple complaints from neighbors regarding a stench coming from the property. The farm had long produced compost sold locally dubbed Rhody Gold, but in 2019, Jacques had started taking in food scrap waste from area restaurants to add to the mix, according to the order.

And according to the communication, the compost manufacture operation was a violation of town zoning ordinances.

Soon after former town Building and Zoning Official Kerry Anderson issued the order in 2020, Jacques said he planned to fight it, contending that the business was protected under the Right to Farm Act.

In the years that followed, lawyers working on the case had, at points, said they were close to reaching a settlement.

Then, in January, Jacques’ attorney, Michael Kelly, withdrew from representation. In March his new legal counsel, Desautel, appeared before the board requesting an extension until June. Zoners ultimately agreed to extend the case for 45 days.

On Tuesday, Jacques appeal was one of few issues on a short agenda for the board, and Vice Chairman Scott Martin informed the crowd in attendance of the withdrawal. Zoning Board Chairman Robert Najarian lives in the neighborhood and has recused himself from the hearing.

“The cease and desist order remains in full effect indefinitely,” Martin said, noting that the violation also remains in effect until proof of abatement by inspection of the property – and moved to adjourn.

“That concludes this matter, and it’s formally resolved,” Martin said.

Neighbors in attendance, who have closely watched proceedings for the past two years, asked for clarification.

“I know as much as you guys do,” Martin said. “They don’t give us any reasons as to why the appeal was pulled back. All we know was that it was withdrawn.”

Applause could be heard as the gathering – and two years of uncertainty on the conflict – finally came to a close.

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