AUBURN — Councilors on Monday signed off on a plan to allow private composting businesses in the city’s Agriculture and Resource Protection zone.
That clears the way for Michelle Melaragno to bring her proposal for an animal composting facility to the Planning Board.
The measure passed by a vote of 6-1. Councilor Belinda Gerry was the sole no vote. She said she was concerned about the size of the proposed compost facilities.
“I do have a concern about how big this kind of business could be, that we have no limits on the size of the thing,” Gerry said.
City Planner Eric Cousens said that’s not the case. The zoning change allows the project as a special exception to the zoning rules, requiring a full review and approval by the Planning Board.
“It gives us some control, and that’s why the Planning Board preferred this,” Cousens said.
Current zoning does not mention private standalone composting facilities. It allows composting as an accessory — part of a home or a farm — and allows large-scale operations for municipal use.
The zoning change would allow composting of manure, bedding, dead animals, wasted feed, leaves, yard waste and forestry byproducts across the zone.
Councilors did limit the amendment to the city’s Agriculture and Resource Protection zone, voting to amend the nearly identical Low Density Country Residential district by not allowing standalone composting facilities.
Monday’s decision clears the way for Melaragno, of 576 Trapp Road, to open an animal composting facility on her property.
Her plan is to take animals, especially horses, for grieving owners. Disposing of a large animal like that can be an expensive proposition.
Melaragno, who couldn’t attend Monday’s meeting, said the proposal for her specific business will be on the Planning Board’s August agenda.