P/sunny
67°
P/sunny
Hi 68° | Lo 36°

Deadline approaches for local farmer to clean up property

  • Gamil Azmy carries a bale of hay over to his bull Hercules while tending to some chores on his land in Warner on November 8, 2013. <br/>Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Gamil Azmy carries a bale of hay over to his bull Hercules while tending to some chores on his land in Warner on November 8, 2013.
    Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Gamil Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. Photographed on November 8, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Gamil Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. Photographed on November 8, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • One of Gamil Azmy's pigs perches on the fence of its pen on November 8, 2013 on Azmy's property in Warner. Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. Some of the complaints from neighbors rise from the fact that much of Azmy's working farm is in such close proximity to Highway 103 (behind the fence in the background.) <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    One of Gamil Azmy's pigs perches on the fence of its pen on November 8, 2013 on Azmy's property in Warner. Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. Some of the complaints from neighbors rise from the fact that much of Azmy's working farm is in such close proximity to Highway 103 (behind the fence in the background.)

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Gamil Azmy carries a bale of hay over to his bull Hercules while tending to some chores on his land in Warner on November 8, 2013. <br/>Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Gamil Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. Photographed on November 8, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • One of Gamil Azmy's pigs perches on the fence of its pen on November 8, 2013 on Azmy's property in Warner. Azmy has been in a long court battle with the towns of Warner and Webster about the state of his land. Some of the complaints from neighbors rise from the fact that much of Azmy's working farm is in such close proximity to Highway 103 (behind the fence in the background.) <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Gamil Azmy’s tomato plants could be anyone else’s tomato plants in November, brown and fading as the weather grows cold.

But the old ski poles holding up those dying tendrils wouldn’t be in anyone else’s garden but his.

“I’m not a gentleman farmer,” Azmy said with a little laugh. “I’m a gentleman, and I’m a farmer. But I’m not a gentleman farmer. I would like to be a gentleman farmer, but it takes money.”

Azmy, 69, walked around his property Friday, gesturing to the garden outside his yellow house but ignoring the ski poles – “I tell you, this is the best garden ever,” he said – and petting his animals as he walked past their pens – “He’s very, very friendly, like a dog,” he said of Hercules, a gigantic bull licking Azmy’s coat with a thick black tongue.

He can’t hide the pride in his voice. But he can’t hide the defensive edge to his tone either, because those ski poles, that barn, the trash bins for sawdust and water, the cages for his animals – they all look very different to the proud farmer than they do to inspectors from the towns of Webster and Warner.

To him, it’s a working farm. To them, it’s a junkyard.

Azmy and his wife, Lois, are facing more than $29,000 in fines over the state of that property, a piece of land that straddles both of those towns. Town officials and neighbors have complained that debris, machinery and out-of-service vehicles on the farm violate town ordinances and have become a nuisance. The couple signed a settlement agreement with both towns in May 2011, at that time promising to store materials and equipment in permanent structures on their property.

In June, a Merrimack County Superior Court judge found the Azmys in contempt of court and in violation of that settlement agreement. The couple appealed that decision to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and lost.

Now the Azmys must clean up their 18-acre property on Route 103 East by Friday, Judge Richard McNamara ordered in September, or the towns of Webster and Warner will do it for them at the expense of the landowners. They petitioned for an abatement of their fines, but the judge will not rule on that until after the deadline this week.

“We are in the fire,” Azmy said. “We are right there, burning up. We are burning up.”

According to the terms of his agreement with the towns, Azmy needed to build enclosures that would house much of his equipment indoors. But he is allowed to keep equipment outside if he is actively using it for agriculture.

“The agreement said it has to be inside, but not the stuff we use every day,” Azmy said. “Every day, I get up and use the trash bucket. I use the water bucket in the wintertime. I use the hoses. Because I have to take care of all these animals. They depend on me.”

His tone edging on defensive, he made sure to point out a two-story barn he has built to house hay and animals, and the birdhouses he builds himself, and the pen he built from metal fencing to house 19 grunting piglets.

The property is not picturesque. It’s just a working farm, as Azmy has repeated in court over and over.

“Give me a 4-by-4 like that,” he said, pointing to a pile of wood. “That’s not junk wood. That’s a 4-by-4. It can be . . . for something else.”

He pointed to the building he says he has constructed in the past few months – a barn with plywood walls, a metal enclosure for some of the 150 bales of hay he receives each month. He has pieced together walls for some of the structures out of whatever he could find, like recycled wood shutters on one enclosure still in progress.

“It’s not exactly perfect, but hey, you want it enclosed? I enclosed it,” he said of the walls on the building that houses his farmer’s market.

That farmer’s market is just one of several businesses Azmy runs on his property, he said. He also has a gift shop, where he sells birdhouses and other small wood products, and he sells aquaculture systems.

And as he tries to cope with the coyotes and foxes that have been attacking his animals, Azmy said he is also trying to manage declining business as more and more customers avoid him and his land. He hasn’t sold the piglets yet. He can’t keep his own fish tanks anymore because of the expense, and he hasn’t been able to hire part-time help for the farm as he used to.

“If you look around, there’s no trash,” he said. “Every single day, I pick it up. Trash to me is waste, and that’s . . . the problem with the neighborhood now. ‘Oh your place is full of trash, your place is toxic.’ What’s toxic? And that’s what killing our business.”

As Azmy walked past their pen built from chain-link fencing, his 19 piglets pushed against the gate with excited grunts. Suddenly, they were out, running in a squealing pack on their short legs.

“Come on, girls,” Azmy said, chasing after them.

He clicked his tongue patiently at the little animals as he and his wife and son herded them back to their pen, luring them with bread from the house. They flocked around him, jumping over his ankles but finally following his lead back into their enclosure.

“I love my animals,” Azmy said. “They are my fixation. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. I don’t do anything. This is my friends, each one of them.”

Lois Azmy tossed pieces of a cheese bagel to the pigs in their pen. She has been by her husband’s side in court as they argue their case, but she said they still don’t feel like they understand the settlement agreement they signed with the town.

“I feel like I’m on a runaway train, the brakes are broke, the conductor jumped off, it’s going downhill,” she said.

Azmy said he had just received pictures and information from the most recent visit by town officials. He shook his head, still unsure what he needs to accomplish in the last days before his deadline.

“I have to call my lawyer,” he said.

The lines of his age are starting to show under the black-and-gray scruff on his cheeks. He has lived in America for almost 50 years since he emigrated from Egypt, and he’ll be 70 soon. He was quiet for a moment, and suddenly there was a sadness in his words that had not been there before.

“The freedom here is beautiful, and I came to America as a student and an immigrant because of that freedom,” Azmy said. “And to see this happening to me and my family, it’s just breaking my heart.”

He watched the chickens dig in the nearby soil. Then the moment was gone, and the tone in his voice was defensive again.

“So, here we are,” he said. “All we want to do is live in peace.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Hey, He is supporting himself. He pays his taxes, he recycles, it is HIS property. Federal, State and Local government should stay out of his business. He has every right to make a living and recycle the way he wants! Rit

Gamil and I purchased this property back in 2001, hoping to re-open "the Glendon"; with the blessing of Elsie Bovie, she even commented that she "hoped the Town didn't give you the trouble they gave me". After a year of monthly attendance at towns meetings, which we tried to meet with both towns at the same time so everyone knew what was going on, we finally got the permits to open the restaurant, 2002, before it was even open (and inspectable by the health department, they had already recieved a complaint about the restaurant) Many people enjoyed coming and eating on the back deck watching the animals. The driveway, where all the vehicles park, is the approved drive way by both towns and by the State, I'm not sure where the neighbors want us to park the cars, do they not park their cars in their driveway? The issue with one neighbor started because while we were getting permits for the restaurant it was discovered that the neighbor was renting his 1.5 acres to a landscaping business, and had been for a few years, with out anyone having permits. This was discovered by Gamil, as the business was out growing the location and coming onto his property. Then when the surveyor and Gamil were walking the property they were shot at by the neighbor, of course this was not taken to court to be answered for. (But let the bull get out and he's taken to court.) The neighbors acrossed the street where upset (I'm sure with good cause) by the tenants that were renting the house, they had issues with the dogs barking. I don't know what could have been done to resolve the issue, but knowing the tenant I'm sure it was not resolved, although Gamil did try. We have had numerous visits from State DES, Health Inspectors ect over the years, I am sure these trained professionals would have noticed trash, debris or environmental hazards (if there had been any to notice) and I'm sure they would have mentioned it in their reports. (OH yeah, we had to move 4 paint cans once) But this has never happened, much to the neighbors disappointment. Of course the neighbors coming from a city think that you are suppose to follow your animals around with a pooper scooper and have it removed. They know nothing of purchasing manure for the garden. (Yes, we've have paid for shit). And you should see the tomatoes!!!!

Gamil owns another trashed property not far away on Poverty Plains Road - Does any reader find it wrong that they dont go after that property because it is not in a well traveled corridor? ps: a good reporter would cite the ordinance.

Now if that property wasnt owned by Gamil would you be saying the same thing? I drive all over Warner and Hopkinton and i see 'Eye sore' farms and other properties... why dont we rid the town of these 'disturbances' that seem to affect the realty and neighbors in Warner. Not to mention its a large parking lot thats always been there and will remain there, Gamil's neighbors purchased their land AFTER gamil had been running his farm and restaurant... why is it a problem now? I want to thank you for the time spent checking up on Gamil's ownings... do you run through the town keeping eye on all land or just his belongings??

Yes indeed and I do so at town hall but they tell me there is no blight ordinance. I am a real estate investor - Gamil's property clean up was too much to make the property worth what he wanted

The town dump is cleaner than this place, the neighbor should get a property tax break for having to look at a dump across the road. You can be sure that the value of the neighbors home is greatly affected and they would have a hard time trying to sell their home if they wanted to. The property should be condemned and since Gamil hasn't met the agreement with the towns since 2011, the towns should take the property and still fine them for the cleanup.

Google sky view of the property. You can also look at it from street view to see what exactly the issue is. https://www.google.com/maps?q=davisville,+nh&hl=en&ll=43.247328,-71.728111&spn=0.001762,0.00368&sll=44.001231,-71.566139&sspn=3.532282,7.536621&t=h&hnear=Davisville,+Concord,+New+Hampshire+03303&z=18

Maybe we should get an accurate and up to date picture. Also this 'sky' view doesn't show trash it shows that he has structures for his animals and a lot of cars. His Neighbors house looks bad from the sky view also. Why don't we take a look at everyone's yards from the sky.

Good point, if you look at the property from the street view, you can understand why the neighbors and town would have a major concern. Very disappointed the way the Monitor reported this one-sided story.

If I am not mistaken this property many years back was known as The Glendonen. It was a beautiful place where travelers could stop and stay for the night or for several nights. Sort of a country inn type place.

I'am Gamil's younger daughter. My parents always tell us not to worry and to ignore all the bad things that go on. Like fake bombs, threatening letters, cut brakes. Its insane how your hate for my family or rather my father affects your life so much. I think it is sort of funny that two neighbors group together and sit in their cars keeping a watchful eye on my father.. he is a 70 yr old man... why don't you worry about your own life and being happy? Environmental services and anyone else that gets called to our property always laughs and apologizes. They say nothing is wrong and there tired of the calls that waste their time. As for the trash circulating BY THE HIGHWAY maybe we should be blaming the people who throw cigarette packs, McDonald food and other beverage items out of there car. My father even picks that garbage up too. As for taking a drive by our house, don't let my father know he will put up a big enclosed structure and charge everyone that wants to his kingdom. As for the lawn... the neighbors sit there with a ruler and wait for the grass to grow... you cant sit, ea,t or sleep... you need to maintain that mower that needs to be a current make and model, while your life is busy tending to your lawn... there busy counting the leaves on your tree... I was worried about my father talking to the news... i'm tired of misleading hateful people. This article was very nice... and it still doesn't do my fathers heart of gold justice.

I for one harbor any hate or any other negative feeling to your father or family. I am sorry to see the state of the current property for several reasons. One I have many good memories of spending sometime day and night there when the Bovie's operated the Glendon. We'd spend time in the river and trek back up for beer and burgers. So to me it was a landmark of my youth. Your father and all could be the nicest people around but all the outsider see's is a collection of items that will never be used except for taking up space and adding to the overall clutter. There have been many games played because of the multiple town lines and I fail to understand the need for all the vehicles and boats as well as many of the general items that clutter all open spaces. But it is not my property afterall. So I am sorry about all the hate as that is unnecessary, but is anything ever thrown away? For my selfish reasons In really think the farm could operate without 1/4 of what is present. An eyesore for the neighbors is not a farming requirement. Geoff Carson, Webster

I can respect and understand what your saying... but they aren't focusing on the cars... there making him move garden and hoses.. and moving his hay. I understand there's a lot of cars in the parking lot, but unfortunately the bigger box trucks are from our restaurants while in the process trying to sell them or get rid of them... they were once needed by us and now there trying to get sold.. if you know someone send them over there. Its not that he does this on purpose. I also understand the items but a lot of the people are acting from hating not from just wanting the parking lot cleaned. You can only see the parking lot anyway... and as you can see there saying to take his home and that the reporter does no justice... this is the only time a reporter had ever said anything nice for my dad. I think this could all be handled differently. Anyway, i'm done with this site. I just needed to get my feeling out that there's hatred for my dad not just the simple 'clean your parking lot' Which, he has fixed tremendously. Thank you.. for not being afraid to say your name. I don't hate anyone from any of the towns. I just hate that its gotten out of hand.. help him.. don't threaten him. He is more then willing to comply but anyone who gets treated the way we have is going to be defensive and un-trusting.

When our barn burned down in the middle of Winter, Gamil and his family were among the first people to respond, bringing us feed for our livestock and comfort in a time of loss. I know him to be a decent man with a deep love for his family and his farm and an unusual gift with animals. Anyone who has seen the improvements he and his family have made over the course of the past several months adressing the concerns of his neighbors and town officials cannot ignore the Herculean effort put into that property. While I do not know the deeper history between the parties involved, I do know family and their commitment to their farm and it would be a gross miscarriage of justice to continue to pile on fines and further demands when the desired effect is clearly being manifested. NH ranks 49th in the US for agriculture, in large part because most residents can buy their food at a grocery store. Perhaps if more people purchased from their local farmer rather than from a corporate producer thousands of miles away there would be adequate compensation so that families like the Hazmy's could handle the many obligations and expenses of farming before it gets to this. Maybe, rather than spending time listing the complaints and flaws found next door, neighbors could act more like the Hazmys and offer their aid when the need is clear. The Hazmys are acting in good faith and it's time that others respond in kind.

I am a neighbor to the Azmy's and actually enjoy seeing what they have all about their farm. If you are ever in the need for a hard to find item Gamil always takes the time to dig it out for you. Growing up in NH and having gone to many farms in the 1960's and 70's what one will see there at the Azmy's is not unlike what you would have seen all over just those few years ago. I guess people have short memories. These are fine people who do not deserve all the bad press and talk they have put up with for the past several years. I think I remember the Azmy farm being there before the neighbors home was built.

True there are a large amount of cars, but other than the cars the house they live in, a little shop and unique fencing which Id would use in my garden and the one building that hold the farmers market. You wouldn't know its a farm unless your standing on his private property.Looking down, its all down away from the house and the road. But for you neighbor you obviously don't know you live in NH WELCOME TO A FRAMERS STATE. I have met the Azmy's and my son played sports with Gamil's son there a nice helping family ,buying cord of wood, its a working family farm I've bought for 5 year now. Obviously its not a junk yard if the cars are all movable and registered. Let not forget you love neighbors taking pictures of every second of the day,Sorry to say I'm ashamed of my town and who the selectman are. So can i have plants outside? Will I be fined for having to much cord wood which is covered outside??

The tone of the story and the pictures accompanying it are very misleading. The issue is not about a kindly gentleman and his love for his farm animals. It is about his persistent hoarding of virtually anything around the exterior of his property that abuts Rte. 103. Instead of a closeup picture of a snowblower and a few farm animals, how about taking a picture from the neighbor's house across the street? The property is a shocking disarray of crap that should win a junkyard Hall of Fame award. Placing tarps over piles of junk do not solve the problem or meet the requirements of the law. Furthermore, for such a left-leaning newspaper, where is the concern for the environmental issues created by the debris stored there? Your concern for Gamil's rights are almost Libertarian !

To the residents of Warner, how often should I mow my lawn?

according to my neighbor in Tilton, yours (and mine) should be mowed every other day whether it needs it or not.

As long as it's not in the city, tell your neighbor you will mow your lawn when you darn well please. I hope your neighbor likes the color of your house.

Instead of making a comment about something you have not seen take a ride over by the property which is about a mile and half up the road from where the Hopkinton State Fair is held. Both towns have had ongoing problems with this property. They opened a restaurant in their house and the property on the road looks like a junk yard with multiple and I do mean multiple vehicles and parts of equipment scattered along the road and pushed back into the woods. They have been told multiple times over at least the last 6 years to clean up and they argue that the equipment is in a different town from whichever one sends them a noitice.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.