Neighbors Largely Approve Bradford Farm Energy Project

Linda Albers of Oxford Avenue tells Vanguard’s John Hanselman and neighbors she found few odors during her tour of a Rutland anaerobic digester. (WHAV News photograph.)

Farmer C. Michael Davidowicz.

Farmer C. Michael Davidowicz.

Neighbors posed tough questions Thursday night about a planned organics-to-energy operation at Crescent Farm, but largely appeared satisfied by the answers they received.

Some even cheered when they learned of one planned improvement.

“We’re going to pave the driveway so all of the dust is going to get eliminated,” owner C. Michael “Mike” Davidowicz told a crowd of neighbors and a few city officials. The long, steep Boston Road driveway is largely unpaved, stirring dust when existing farm vehicles use the road.

Davidowicz plans to install an anaerobic digester to capture naturally occurring methane gas and use it to fuel a generator producing a megawatt of electricity. It will be set back away from the property line in a low area behind a barn. His 350-acre farm has been operated by four generations of his family. Byproducts of the process will be used as natural fertilizer.

Except for building permits, the city largely plays no role in permitting of the project because it is related to existing agricultural uses. Haverhill Purchasing Agent and Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco, however, came to hear the specifics.

“The city doesn’t really have a major permitting role in this particular type of project. It’s not like a solar project that goes through site plan review or anything like that,” Pacheco said.

Even though local public hearings are not required, Davidowicz and developer Vanguard Renewables of Wellesley sought feedback from neighbors before moving ahead. The voluntary effort won praise from Haverhill Conservation Commissioner Brent Baeslack.

“I am all in favor of green energy and, in regards to this particular proposal, it seems like their addressing and taking appropriate steps for public input,” he said.

Neighbors Tom and Linda Albers recently toured a Vanguard project at Jordan Dairy Farm, Rutland, and came away happy.

“Really, I was shocked how close I had to get before I smelled anything,” Linda said. Odor reduction is actually a critical side benefit of anaerobic digesters, John Hanselman, Vanguard executive chairman, told neighbors. He explained the odor is actually the valuable fuel used to power the generator.

Vanguard Renewables' William Jorgenson and John Hanselman walk the site with neighbors.

Vanguard Renewables’ William Jorgenson and John Hanselman walk the site with neighbors.

Because the property is covered under a state Agricultural Preservation Restriction, designed to protect farms from development, the state Department of Agricultural Resources will need to sign off on the project. That approval is likely since the department previously approved Vanguard’s Rutland and Hadley projects. Other air emissions permits will come from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

While the plant will generate carbon dioxide as a byproduct, it is not as potent a greenhouse gas as raw methane which already escapes from farms, explained William Jorgenson, Vanguard’s managing director.

Besides Crescent Farms, the anaerobic digester will accept wastes from about 10 other mostly small farms, including Shaw Farm, Dracut. Warren Shaw came to the meeting to voice support for the project. Food wastes, already banned at landfills, may also be accepted.

6 thoughts on “Neighbors Largely Approve Bradford Farm Energy Project

  1. Manure odors are a natural product of farms and not irritating all year round like daily food/restaurant waste will be as its carted through Bradford every single day.
    Bradford was once a nice part of Haverhill….now its Haverhills and every other towns dump. The old landfill, the giant ash mountain, the sewage plant and now the garbage plant. Enjoy.
    NIMBY? Your dam right.

  2. I believe that uninformed individuals shouldn’t make comments. As the article suggests, expressed concerns were put rest. To make advanced comments with out researching and not going to the meeting to address those concerns sounds like an emotional rant of a personal bias. That is too bad, sorry for your loss!

  3. Let’s be real here folks, who was going to go there and oppose this project? If you did you would be the subject of a barrage of harassment by the family.
    Isnt that nice of the farmer to pave his driveway because of the dust. Dust wouldn’t be so bad if they would slow down, driving the all terrain vehicle up and down the street doesn’t help dust or the environment.
    If this is such a great project why isn’t Shaw farm putting it on their property?

  4. I find it surprising that there is no mention of Dave Hall. Calling Dave Hall….your political future depends on it. Lol I bet that since he now helps out the Mayor, that his tongue has been somewhat removed. He’s been awfully quiet lately. I expected to hear of his vehement opposition to this project. After all, this is EXACTLY what he told neighbors up off Hilldale was coming and compared that proposed project to this type of facility. Remember: Rats, stench, disease, trash, neighborhood noise and road impact from trucks. You name it and he threw it out there. Pay no attention to the truth folks, just listen to big Dave spew falsehoods trying to get elected. Oh wait…..not this time. Maybe he’s getting a cut ?? Was the Mayor for this project before he was against it like the last one ? Paging John Kerry……