Billionaire's dairy intake? Maple yogurt

Amid a swirl of spirited discusssion about the burgeoning dairy farm at the West Marlborough retirement compound of Urban Outfitters' founder Dick Hayne, neighbors picked up some tidbits last night about the owner's dietary preferences.

The community need not fear that yogurt production will increase, said Dave Ziel, a Hayne representative. "It's limited to personal consumption. He eats it every day," said Ziel. Maple is Hayne's preferred flavor, Ziel said, adding:  "I don't have a taste for it."

The topic surfaced at last night's Planning Commission meeting that included preliminary discussion of the conditional use permits Hayne is seeking for his dairy production as well as his greenhouses.

Ziel's insistences that Hayne has no interest in launching a Paul Newman-like food empire were greeted with skepticism by township officials  and members of the community. The reason? Months ago, they were told by a different Hayne representative that the cheese-making operation would be limited primarily to personal use.

 Since then, Doe Run cheddar has surfaced for sale at Terrain, Hayne's upscale garden/restaurant complex in Delaware County, the Lansdowne Farmers Market, Di Bruno Brothers in Philadelphia, and the Winterthur farmstand in Delaware. Plus, now that maple yogurt has been identified as the billionaire's elixir, will demand skyrocket?

Ziel said Hayne simply wants the ability to sell his excess dairy products and produce. Has anyone told him about the Chester County Food Bank? He also said that what some neighbors view as a the star-dulling glow emanating from the greenhouses at night could be reduced through solar shades and landscape screening.

Despite Ziel's assurances -- he even offered to conduct tours of the Hayne property --  residents were not readily appeased, and several suggested that Hayne might want to address his neighbors in person rather than sending spokespeople to meetings. Hayne's next opportunity to do that will be Aug. 25 when the conditional use permits are on the agenda.