Concrete plant receives year-round approval

ELLSWORTH — While concrete won’t be mixed during continuous below-freezing temperatures at a Hughes Bros. concrete plant on Bucksport Road, the Planning Board has removed a condition permitting use of the facility only between April 1 and Nov. 30.

The project had been approved with that condition this past November.

In explaining her request for year-round operation, environmental engineer Janet Hughes said that work needs to begin and end weeks before the concrete mixing actually starts.

Hughes had initially appealed the board’s decision, which required a return to the Planning Board if operations extended past the seasonal time frame. She then withdrew the appeal in favor of requesting that the Planning Board amend the application by removing the condition. The board took up the issue Jan. 5.

City Planner Elena Piekut noted there had been no opportunity to discuss the condition before the board’s approval, adding also that the board “shouldn’t feel pressured” to remove it.

“It enabled you to support the project, in a sense,” she told board members, noting that earlier discussions had centered on the plant’s seasonal work.

Like other major site uses, such as gravel pits, no septic system is required without an enclosed facility with running water. Instead, portable toilets with handwashing stations and bottled water will suffice. A trailer will serve as the facility’s office.

The site plan submitted last year does include a septic system, which would be added if a covered facility is constructed in the future.

“My thoughts are typically the rule is you have to adhere to all standards absent a good reason not to,” alternate board member and attorney Patrick Lyon said. “I look at this as a permanent operation, even if there’s some seasonality.”

State standards require a wastewater disposal system where there’s pressurized running water. But Hughes explained that while pressurized, potable water is required to mix concrete, workers will only use portable toilets and the bottled water, noting a similar setup had been used at the company’s Hampden plant.

If Hughes Bros. finds enough local demand for its concrete, it may build an enclosed facility and a septic system. Both were included in its application to the board.

As long as the building remains under 5,000 square feet, only a building permit issued by the code enforcement officer is required by city ordinance. So, a second condition of approval that required Planning Board approval to construct the building was also removed.

The code enforcement officer does have the authority to send a building permit application to the Planning Board for approval, if warranted, Vice Chairman John DeLeo pointed out.

“By getting rid of the condition, the applicant doesn’t get carte blanche to do whatever they want,” board member Rick Lyles said.

In other business, John Fink, absent from the meeting, was re-elected as chairman, as were DeLeo as vice chairman and Lyles as secretary.



Story was corrected on January 13 to update quote provided by City Planner Elena Piekut.


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