Dunbarton egg farm denial brings lawsuit
DUNBARTON — Tom Giovagnoli said he has lost an opportunity to earn more than $1 million after his plan to build a 27,000-square-foot barn was rejected by the Planning Board and he is suing the town for monetary damages.
Giovagnoli first went before the board last April seeking to build the barn on his 84-acre property with plans to sell eggs produced by 20,000 cage-free, organic-certified hens to Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs of Monroe. The lot is classified as low-density residential, which allows specified agricultural uses — a point Giovagnoli has stated at several Planning Board meetings. According to the New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission, those uses include “livestock, poultry and swine.”
After several hearings before the board and facing opposition from abutters, Giovagnoli’s request was rejected on Dec. 18. At that hearing, he repeatedly asked the board to grant conditional approval, which members said the town does not provide. In addition, the board said all the required information had not been provided and written on the site plan.
According to Giovagnoli’s attorney, John Cronin, the town was stalling and has granted such approvals previously.
“There was a lot of outpouring of objections from residents of ‘not in my backyard,’ and the Planning Board delayed it. Mr. Giovagnoli has provided engineering and EPA studies and documents from Pete and Gerry’s,” said Cronin. “The Planning Board said they would not do conditional approval, but they just approved a conditional project a few meetings before Mr. Giovagnoli’s last appearance before the Planning Board. At the end, as we determine, the use was allowed as a matter of right and all of the requested waivers were granted.”
Cronin said Giovagnoli asked the board in December to list the conditions, and he would see if he could meet them.
“I can’t continue to repeat the same thing meeting after meeting. A meeting costs me $10,000,” Giovagnoli said in December. “Give me conditional approval and write down what is conditional and I’ll either accept it or not.”
Because the town rejected the plan, Cronin said Giovagnoli’s opportunity to make a living was denied.
“We are alleging that because the Planning Board did not grant approval, his opportunity to do business with Pete and Gerry’s was lost. They have gone elsewhere. The chickens have flown the coop,” Cronin said.
Giovagnoli said the matter has scared away his contract, and “until the dust clears, I don’t want to say too much.”