Hillandale Farms Conn’s poultry farm in Turner, seen Monday, has requested that the town rezone its property on the east side of Plains Road, which it listed for sale. The east side is on the right. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

TURNER — Hillandale Farms Conn has requested that the town rezone its poultry farm after it listed about half of its property for sale.

If approved at the April 6 annual meeting, it would eliminate the agricultural/industrial zone.

The zone was established specifically for the poultry farm in 2006 by vote at the annual meeting, according to Town Manager Kurt Schaub. It is the only property within the agricultural/industrial zone and requires that the property be used for egg production.

Hillandale is hoping to have the property rezoned under Rural 1, which allows for farming and residential lots, Schaub said. The property surrounding the farm is in the Rural 1 zoning district. The farm’s production is substantially smaller than it was almost a decade ago. There are more possibilities for the property if it is zoned as Rural 1.

Since Hillandale took ownership of the farm in 2015, it has scaled down production to better align with need based on the number of its buyers, according to Managing Partner Steve Vendemia. When the company bought the farm, it was overproducing eggs and the roughly two-thirds decrease in production since aligns better with local stores’ demand for eggs.

Those stores are in Maine and New Hampshire and some include Hannaford and Shaw’s, he said.


The company has 480,000 birds and about 45 employees at the Turner farm. That level of production matches the current needs of its buyers. In 2015, the farm had 2.3 million birds.

A few years ago, the Turner farm also supplied eggs to stores in Massachusetts but the state enacted a law requiring eggs sold there to be from cage-free chickens, which the Turner farm does not have. The farm had to start suppling those stores with eggs from one of the company’s Connecticut farms that has cage-free chickens, he said.

Now, Hillandale is only using about 300 to 400 acres of the farm’s roughly 1,600-acre footprint, he said. About 600 to 700 acres on the east side of the Plains Road, which runs down the middle of the farm property, is listed for sale by Spectrum Real Estate of Portland.

The company has no plans at this time to cease operations at the farm, but it also cannot guarantee that it will continue operations in the future, Vendemia said. It is evaluating the farm’s viability quarterly.

Two major factors to consider when operating a poultry farm are how far away feed sources are and how close the market is, he said. The feed, made up of corn and soy beans, mostly comes from the Midwest.

Vendemia describes the zoning request as a few years overdue, because the farm has not used the east side of the property for many years.


The zoning change will expand the property’s uses and make it more marketable. Expanding the potential uses for it will allow a potential buyer options and make it less likely the land will remain unused.

“I’m sure there is better use of property for the people of Turner than just letting it stay dormant,” he said.

When the company bought the farm, it underwent various environmental tests and those tests indicate that the land is in “extremely good shape,” so there are no environmental concerns, according to Vendemia.

Schaub said the rezoning makes sense because it is unlikely that future use of that property will be for a poultry farm, he said. Based on conversations with company representatives, Schaub understands that the company intends to cease operations at the farm at some point but it is not clear how soon that will happen.

The town is processing an abatement request from the farm, Schaub said. The buildings have deteriorated and they are designed in a way specifically for poultry farming, which is not adaptable for other uses. The actual value of the buildings is less than what they are assessed for by the town.

Town officials have anticipated an abatement request from the farm for the past few years and have put money away each year to go toward a potential abatement, he said.

The town and farm have cooperated well over the years and the town continues to have good communication with Hillandale, Schaub said. “It’s going to be quite a change for the town and hopefully this will — the change will help to smooth things out looking ahead.”

Residents will have a chance to speak about the request Wednesday at a Planning Board public hearing.

Residents will vote on the zoning change at the annual meeting April 6.

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