Potash neighbors tell select board of nuisance goats ARPA funds discussion and development loan approval

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2024 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Last Wednesday, several residents from the area of Andover and Potash Brook roads asked the Chester Select Board to establish a nuisance ordinance in response to a neighbor’s animals – including goats, horses, pigs and vicious dogs – that have made living in the area difficult for several years.

Town Manager Julie Hance told the board that the town has been receiving a number of complaints about farm animals causing problems for neighbors or being kept on lots not suitable for them. Hance then gave the board a very detailed ordinance currently used by Barre and asked if the board had any appetite for such regulation.

The neighbors then spoke.

“Please help the police help us,” said Jennifer Gagliardi, who lives in her grandmother’s house on Potash Brook Road. She told the board that she while the police have responded to her calls, they have told her they could do nothing without an ordinance that would give the town the power to receive and investigate complaints, give notice of violations and levy fines or impound animals that are deemed to be a nuisance. Gagliardi said the herd of goats come onto her property, eating her flowers and stripping the bark from her lilac bushes. She said that the owner had “kept that property neat as a pin,” but it has gone downhill into what she described as squalor.

“I can’t ignore it when it comes into my yard,” said Gagliardi.

Eric Richardson described a “goat parade everyday” with 13 of the animals wandering out to find food.

Other neighbors described the honking of passing cars as the goats walk on Andover Road. Several described the lack of food for the goats. “They don’t feed them, they have to go out and browse,” said neighbor Richard Poston, “I have no rights on my property.” Poston said it’s not just goats, but last year it was the pigs and the biting dogs.

Karen Orchitt of Andover Road said she has been bitten by the dogs more than once and had called the police twice. She said the white dog had not broken the skin when he bit her due to her coat, but had left the impressions of its teeth and her arm had swollen up. Another time it did break the skin “a little bit.”

Select board chair Arne Jonynas said the board had heard the residents and would look into what it can do to help. Telegraph file photo

Hance said that while the town does not have a nuisance ordinance, it does have a dog ordinance, which the board has enforced in the past. She then asked how long ago Orchitt was bitten.

“This winter,” said Orchitt, who added that she does not want “to be the neighbor that causes trouble for other neighbors.”

Select Board member Peter Hudkins said that state law allows the town to impound animals running loose. Hance agreed, but said the board would also have to look at the practicality of impounding.

“You’re not going to get a goat into a police cruiser,” said Hance. “Who picks them up, where do they go? There’s some research to be done. It’s one thing to enact an ordinance, it’s another thing to enforce it.”

Board Chair Arne Jonynas thanked the neighbors for coming and told them the board would begin looking at ways to help with the situation.

The Telegraph went to the area on Monday and Tuesday looking for the herd, but did not see any goats.

What to do with remaining ARPA funds

Hance reminded the board that the funds from the American Rescue Plan Act — ARPA — need to be obligated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. Of the original $903,952, the town has spent just over $598,000, leaving a balance of almost $306,000.

During budgeting for this year, the board decided to put $88,000 toward the principal on a bond payment to ease the tax burden and the Fire Department has requested $50,000 to replace an air compressor they have used since 1989 to fill high-pressure air cylinders for breathing apparatus.

Acting Fire Chief Ben Whalen explained that due to the high pressure and filtering requirements, an ordinary compressor is inefficient. Currently, the department is filling its cylinders with the compressor at the fire station in Springfield. But that becomes cumbersome when firefighters return from a call and still have to take all the spent cylinders to Springfield.

The board approved spending the $50,000 for the compressor, which leaves a little less than $168,000 in the fund. Board member Arianna Knapp asked if the money could be put into another fund for use later. Hance said it could not, but had some suggestions for using it for purchasing various things outright and taking pressure off the town’s capital fund. When the money was first received, there was some discussion about using it for one-time purchases that would not normally make it into the budget. A public forum was held in 2022 but many of the ideas brought forward for using the money were projects that would cost far more than the grant.

The board will continue to discuss what to do with the remaining funds at future meetings.

Loan to open Meditrina Wine Bar

The board received a request from Justin and Amy Anderson for a $55,000 loan from the town’s economic development fund to help with opening a restaurant called The Meditrina Wine Bar. Amy Anderson has operated a wine shop by that name for 14 years. The shop currently operates at 295 Main St., where Anderson’s yoga studio is located. The application for the loan said the wine bar would have a full restaurant with seating for 38 indoors and 16 outdoors weather permitting.

Bob Flint of the Springfield Regional Development Corp. told the board that his organization is also lending the Andersons $55,000 and would encourage the board to approve the 10-year loan at 5 percent interest. Jonynas explained that Flint and the SRDC advise the town on loans from the fund. Flint said SRDC asks a lot from potential borrowers and that the Andersons are strong candidates for a loan.

The board approved the loan unanimously.



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  1. Kim austin says:

    Seems like there are several issues
    The hoarding issue, of trash and debris, that should be a town ordinance. If these animals are not being fed, is there a reason why the Humane Society cannot step in and remove the animals and find appropriate living conditions for them?

  2. Potash Brook Road off Andover Road, but it is in Chester.

  3. Thomas knockenhauer says:

    Isn’t this a andover problem, why go to chester?