Dunning Sand & Gravel withdrew its application for food composting at the Farmington Town Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Monday in response to neighbor’s wide opposition to the proposal.
But company President Ben Dunning is not giving up on the idea.
“There’s no question that we could compost food and other organic materials in a responsible manner that would make any odors virtually nonexistent while using hyper-quiet equipment. We were prepared to radically reduce our volume to a level that would make the surrounding neighbors more comfortable with the idea and any increased traffic basically unnoticeable,” Dunning said in a statement.
“However, the feedback we have received from the nearby neighbors is that they simply don’t want food composting near their homes. They are afraid of potential odors, increased noise and traffic,” he added. “I completely understand their concerns and I am confident that all concerns could have been resolved, but I want them comfortable with the idea, so at this time we are withdrawing our application.”
Dunning is exploring alternative options for food composting off-site in the future.
“So while I am withdrawing our application to compost food on our own site on Brickyard Road, we haven’t given up on the idea,” Dunning said. “We will continue to seek other locations and at the same time try to increase educational awareness of composting. In the end we will do what is right for the environment.”
In a press release, the company expressed its belief that the food composting model is “the right thing to do environmentally.” But Dunning said that he wants to preserve his company’s “excellent reputation in the community” and that he “doesn’t want to damage that reputation by upsetting the neighbors,” according to the release.
Dunning had hoped to add composting that included pre-consumer food scraps from large kitchens as part of his mission to grow the green side of his business. His reasoning behind the initiative was to “make a quality organic product that would be used to supplement and reduce chemical lawn fertilization and do his part for the environment by keeping reusable material like food residuals from being landfilled unnecessarily,” the press release stated.
Dunning has studied composting at the University of Maine, including the use of food in compost mixtures.
“Composting is beneficial for so many reasons,” Dunning said. “Mainly it enriches soils and reduced the need for chemical fertilizers that can damage the environment. At the same time it diverts valuable organic resources from landfills and incinerators. I still strongly believe that food composting is the right thing to do for the environment.”
The company has been doing leaf composting for about two years and currently has 14 windrows of leaf compost in the works.
Recycling is an integral part in the development of Dunning Sand & Gravel’s new products, according to the release. The company makes “engineered soils,” “quality mulches” and “hardscape products like paver stones” for “walkways, driveways and walls,” the press release states.
The fourth-generation family business has been operating for 96 years and is located on Brickyard Road in Farmington.