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February 3, 2013

Haverhill pigs lose court battle

City evicted swine in 2011 after complaints


In its denial decision, the health board said Chris Stasinos and his lawyer DiLuna refused to say how many pigs the farmer intended to raise on the Boxford Road land. The health board’s ruling said the land had a capacity of between 104 and 156 animals. At a City Hall hearing early in the dispute — packed with dozens of neighbors opposed to the pig farm and farmers there to support the Stasinos — DiLuna said information about how many pigs his client intended to raise was a proprietary secret.

Chris Stasinos appealed the board’s denial to the state Department of Environmental Protection, which ruled in favor of the city. That denial spawned the lawsuit.

In his ruling, Judge Thomas Murtagh said there were no errors of law in the case and that the Board of Health’s decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious — the standard for overturning a local decision.

The judge emphasized Stasinos’ refusal to tell the city how many pigs he intended to keep on the Boxford Road.

“Without having the number of pigs destined to occupy the site, the burden on the land cannot be ascertained,” the ruling said. “The quantity of manure cannot be determined and the adequacy of any plan to deal with the waste and runoff cannot be fully evaluated. This would be reason alone to deny the license for Boxford Road.”

The judge said it’s “elementary” that the board can and should deny the licenses at locations for which site assignments have been denied “because piggeries emanate odors and are considered nuisances.”

“Evidence concerning the risks to water supplies, the lack of erosion controls and the damage from runoff, negate any claim that the board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious,” the judge wrote.

Lastly, the ruling said Stasinos’ argument is without merit because he never submitted mitigation plans for his piggeries.

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