Adamstown residents object to cattle grazing proposal

By on January 2, 2013

By: JAMES McGINNIS Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Residents of an Adamstown subdivision are concerned about a former official’s plan to graze cattle on borough land.

In early December, a group of about four residents voiced their objections to plans by resident and former councilman Spencer Stober to graze a herd of 10 cattle on a 20-acre tract of undeveloped land that Stober owns behind the Meadows of Adamstown subdivision.

Stober, whose house is also situated in the development and is directly adjacent to the property, noted that it is a wetland zoned conservation, meaning that livestock grazing is a permitted use. He also described his decision to have the cattle graze on the property as a "management tool" that he claimed would be a greener alternative to spraying herbicides to keep out plants that could harm the wetlands.

"Ten animals on 20 acres of land is very low-impact," Stober said.

However, residents of several homes that adjoin the property objected to plans to graze cattle on the parcel.

Terry Eckert, who attended the meeting with his wife Donna, claimed that a borough ordinance stipulates that a majority of landowners must provide written consent before any fences can be constructed. He also questioned Stober’s assertion that the property was actually a wetland.

"I don’t want a fence in my backyard, nor do I want cattle behind my home," Eckert said.

Lynn McComb, another resident who opposed Stober’s plans, noted that the herbicides that would be used as an alternative to the cattle are relatively safe. "They are no different than common lawn chemicals," she said. "They don’t need to put cattle back there."

Stober said that he was willing to reconsider his proposal in light of the opposition. He also acknowledged that spraying herbicides would be the "only viable alternative" to livestock grazing and that they would be no different than those available in stores to treat lawns. "I think this merits us taking a second look," he said.

The council was neutral on the issue. Council members Cindy Schweitzer and Randy Good noted that they could only issue permits and would not be taking sides. "We will only be a conduit for information," Good said. "We will not be acting either way."

Borough officials also approved the purchase of a new emergency generator for the wastewater treatment plant and maintenance building. The generator, which will cost $39,200, replaces an aging one built in the 60’s. Council members noted that the new generator will allow the borough to continue to provide essential services in a hurricane, blizzard or other severe weather event, and will also enable the use of the maintenance building as an emergency shelter.

The new generator will be installed in 2013.

Council also approved the 2013 budget. Taxes will be held at the current rate of 2.5 mills, and there will be no increases in water or sewer rates.

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