The Honorable Smitty Pignatelli, House Chair
The Honorable Anne Gobi, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
State House, Boston

Dear Chair Pignatelli, Chair Gobi, and Distinguished Committee Members,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association respectfully requests that your Committee report favorably on S. 435, An Act regarding agricultural composting programs. This bill would amend Chapter 21H of the General Laws to require that any projects or facilities developed under the state’s agricultural composting programs comply with local zoning, land use, conservation, and health bylaws, ordinances, and regulations. Under current Massachusetts law, solid waste composting sites (regulated by MassDEP) must comply with local laws, while agricultural composting sites (regulated by MDAR) are exempt.

We believe it is necessary to remediate the situation facing several Massachusetts municipalities that have no local control over agricultural composting operations sited in their communities, many of which are large scale and in or adjacent to residential neighborhoods. We have heard concerns from communities regarding excessive odors emanating from agricultural composting sites, fear of contamination of public and private water sources, and the influx of truck traffic on quiet neighborhood streets. While the MMA does not oppose the intent behind agricultural composting operations, and indeed supports many of their benefits, we strongly affirm the right of local government to act on behalf of their residents to make decisions related to project siting, size, and community impact.

This administrative inconsistency between the classification of solid waste composting under MassDEP as being subject to local laws, and agricultural composting under MDAR as being exempt from any local control, has created significant problems for many neighborhoods and communities. Therefore, we urge you to advance this legislative solution that to ensure appropriate local authority regarding agricultural composting siting and impacts.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony in support of S. 435. If you have any questions, or desire further information, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me or MMA Legislative Analyst Ariela Lovett at 617-426-7272 or at any time.


Geoffrey C. Beckwith
Executive Director & CEO