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Hartford Town Board

Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff shares information with the Town Board on the dead animal issue the board has been dealing with for the past several months. 

HARTFORD — The Town Board is seeking a court order for the removal of hundreds of decaying farm animals dumped onto Charlie and Lois Potter’s Northrup Lane 301-acre farm.

“Presently, the Town Board has issued an order mandating the removal of all special wastes from the premises,” said town attorney Jeff Meyer. “After extended negotiations, the town has been unable to reach a settlement with the Potters.”

Since being served a cease and desist order on April 1, the Potters, who are in violation of a town landfill ordinance prohibiting the stockpiling and dumping of animals, have not complied with several town deadlines to remove mounds of decaying cows and horses from their property.

“The time has come and gone. The carcasses are still there, so now the Town Board needs to determine what our next step is,” Supervisor Dana Haff said in a mid-May Town Board meeting.

According to Meyer, instead of complying with the town removal order, the Potters buried the dead animals. The board will be asking in Washington County Supreme Court for three things: The ability to enter the farm and remove waste, collect fines of $5,000 per day for every violation and get reimbursed for all costs and attorney’s fees.

“In terms of cost, to bring an action as outlined above, it typically costs an average of $10,000 in attorney’s fees. While some of the work has already been completed, this will be in addition to legal fees incurred to date,” Meyer said.

Over the past several months, the town board has offered the Potters options and extended deadlines.

“The town is not pleased and they are prepared to move forward,” said Meyer.

In late March, Hartford’s ordinance enforcement officer, Mark Miller, also served Larry Burch of Hartford with a cease and desist order, related to the disposal, processing or burying of animal carcasses and special waste on Potter’s farm.

Burch told The Post-Star in an initial April interview that he collects the dead animals from area farms and dumps them on Potters’ land.

In April, The Post-Star visited the site, viewing it from an adjacent property. During an April public hearing, Miller submitted photographic evidence of several hundred decaying carcasses and shared observations from a state veterinarian who walked the site with him.

In April, following a public hearing, the Town Board gave the Potters 30 days to remove more than 240 decaying cow and horse carcasses. If the work was not done by May 7, the board said the town could remove the animals and charge Potter.

“You are not allowed to dispose of or stockpile dead animals on Hartford property,” Meyer said, adding that there is an exception to the town law for the burial or composting of a farmer’s own animals.

Since that time, Burch has been charged with multiple criminal counts for the dumping violations. His case was moved to the Salem court, after Hartford Justice Sharon Schofield recused herself from the case. His hearing is slated for June 17.

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Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli covers Washington County government and other county news and events.

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