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February 3, 2013

Haverhill pigs lose court battle

City evicted swine in 2011 after complaints

HAVERHILL — The swine at the center of a year-long feud between farmers, residents and the city over piggery rules have lost a legal battle in their owner’s fight to return the animals to Haverhill.

A Superior Court judge has affirmed a fall 2011 decision by the city’s Board of Health to deny Chris and Marlene Stasinos a license to raise the animals at an existing piggery on Boxford Road and a proposed one at Silsby Farm on Salem Street. A few months after the decision, the city evicted the pigs from the Boxford Road property.

The local health board denied the Stasinos piggeries because they would “create noisome and injurious odors and be injurious to the estates of other property owners and would otherwise constitute a nuisance or threat to public health,” according to the board’s decision.

Francis DiLuna, the Stasinos’ lawyer, said neither he nor his clients wanted to comment on the new court decision.

In denying the Silsby Farm piggery, where the Stasinos’ said the Boxford Road pigs would be spending winter, the health board said it would be too close to single-family homes on Valleyview Farm Road and have a “severe adverse impact” on a 27-home development being built nearby called Hale’s Landing.

The controversy began sometime in May 2011 when the Stasinos’ began raising pigs without a license on nine acres of agricultural land near the Boxford line, sparking complaints from neighbors about odors and concerns from city officials about potential environmental impacts. Neighbors said the couple moved the animals onto the property under the cover of darkness.

On two occasions, city inspectors went to the farm, counting 25 pigs on one visit and 20 on the other. But in his appeal to the courts and later to state regulators, Chris Stasinos said he planned to keep only seven sows and one boar at the two farms at separate times — Boxford Road from April to November and Silsby Farm in winter.

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