Anonymous flier prompts farmer to alert town

CHATHAM–Local resident Eric Suquet told the Town Board last week that someone has mailed a flier to his neighbors accusing his farm of polluting the East Chatham water supply. Mr. Suquet said the charges are untrue.

“All of this is false,” Mr. Suquet told the board at the June 1 workshop meeting. He said that he and his wife, Martha, own Graylight Farm in the Town of Canaan, though they are in the East Chatham ZIP code. They raise pigs and grow some vegetables. He said he came to the Chatham Town Board to tell the board about the flier, since the writer mentioned the East Chatham water supply specifically.

“We are happy to talk to anybody about our practices,” he said. He added that he and his wife are sensitive to environmental issues and that fencing that is going on up on the farm is to keep the pigs away from any shared water sources.

A statement about the flier on the Graylight Farm Facebook page reads in part, “We value living in an agricultural district where farms are considered an asset to the community, not a threat. We take the stewardship of our land and our water very seriously. We have gone to great lengths to design and install a series of fenced in paddocks which will keep the animals away from the stream with no direct access to it at any point…. The health of the land is as important to us as the health of our animals and our neighbors. We do not take any of these responsibilities lightly. We love our new home in East Chatham/Canaan and have felt very welcome until now.”

“It was shocking to us,” he said of the anonymous accusations. He said there was personal information in the letter “that was creepy.” He said that no one had approached them with concerns about their farm. “We have no idea who did this and why,” he told the board. He did say that he had talked to the county sheriff and the post office about the letter.

Board member Henry Schwartz had a copy of the letter he showed to board members who had not seen it. Mr. Schwartz said that he also did not know who the letter writer was.

Mr. Schwartz provided The Columbia Paper with the letter which suggests that problems with pig farms, including water pollution and health hazards to humans, exist at Graylight Farms. The anonymous writer also insists that having the farm in East Chatham could lower property values.

Mr. Suquet said he plans to go to the Town of Canaan meeting as well to let people there know about the letter as well.

Also at the meeting:

• The board discussed an agreement that needs to be signed by the Ghent/Chatham Area Seniors group before the town can give the group the $2,000 designated for the group in the 2017 town budget. They host activities and trips for local seniors.

The town attorney advised the board to have a written agreement with the group and drafted one several months ago. But Supervisor Maria Lull said that the president of the group “does not want to sign it.” She told the board that without a signed agreement the board cannot release the funds. The rest of the board agreed

• The board held a public hearing on a local law to permit electric vehicle (EV) charging stations as an accessory use in all zoning districts. The town has received a state grant to install a public EV charging station in the public parking lot near the north end of Main Street in the Village of Chatham. The parking lot is jointly owned by the town and village. The board approved the local law at the end of the workshop meeting.

The next Town Board meeting will be June 15 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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