FRANKLIN — Before the resumption of a public hearing slated for Feb. 24 could begin, the Planning Board unanimously voted to postpone the hearing to give the board time to seek legal counsel from the town’s attorney.
Questions around the legality of the board’s process were raised in response to an application submitted by TC Gravel, LLC, for a proposed quarry on South Bay Road.
According to the town’s ordinance, an applicant gets final rebuttal when responding to opponents to a proposed project.
But Planning Board Chairman Brian Abbott explained that for this application, certain opponents and their legal counsel want to comment on material previously submitted by the applicant, in addition to new information on sound and water studies that the applicant submitted in January.
The public comment period for the previous material ended in June, but the board is being challenged that limiting public comment to new material is hindering due process.
To avoid any legal issues, Abbott recommended that the board speak with the town’s attorney to get guidance on how to proceed. Board members agreed.
Abbott called the move a “minor delay” in an application that has already been pending for several months. He said that the board would go through the public notification process again when a new hearing is scheduled.
The proposed quarry has been a contentious issue for some neighbors and abutters due in part to environmental and noise concerns.
Other concerns voiced by interested parties have to do with the quarry’s size of .9 acres, which means the applicant must obtain a “permit-by-rule” through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), a process where the DEP is not as heavily involved as it would be with larger operations.