FRANKLIN — The Franklin Planning Board held a public hearing Aug. 4 to discuss the application for a quarry on South Bay Road by TC Gravel and to consider next steps.
Upon discussing the application, board members decided that they needed more information on the possible effects of the project, and more time to review that information.
Chairman Brian Abbott suggested the board consider a site visit, which would be open to the public.
“Showing the site plan does not necessarily describe what’s on the ground,” Abbott said.
Following a motion by Abbott, the proposal failed in a 3-2 vote, so board members will not conduct a site visit before making a decision.
Abbott also spoke about the potential impact of blasting to the town, and whether the board should have additional information on that before moving forward. Abbott referenced two earthquakes on Sept. 22 and Oct. 3, 2006, that occurred underneath Bar Harbor, and suggested that the data from these earthquakes might be applicable in understanding the impacts of blasting at the quarry. The quake on Sept. 22 had a magnitude of 3.5. The one on Oct. 3 had a magnitude of 4.2 and occurred close to the UMaine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research [CCAR] and U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] sites in Franklin.
“The reason I bring that up is they [USDA and UMaine CCAR] should have good records on their process and their production and what they were doing at the time,” Abbott said.
Abbott suggested using records from these earthquakes and comparing them to the scale of blasting that would take place at the quarry to get an idea of the effects that the blasting would have on the area.
“That would be an opportunity to make a judgment,” Abbott said. “If the energy aspects at the site at the quarry can be graded as far as magnitude versus what would be generated by the blasting, if it’s greater and no impacts were generated from it, it gives us some place to stand.”
Concerns arose about comparing blasting to earthquakes, since earthquakes are isolated events and blasting occurs on a regular basis for long periods of time
“I don’t understand why one quake is an evaluation of the situation, blasting is over and over and over again,” said one resident. “If that quake happens every day, every week, every month, then what would the effects be?”
Abbott made a motion to seek information from the USDA and the UMaine CCAR about the 2006 earthquakes, which passed. The records of the energy produced by the earthquakes will be reviewed by the Planning Board before the continuation of this hearing, and before a decision is made.
“We want to know what energy level the quake presented in the area of the UMeCCAR and USDA facilities, and how that compares to the shock from blasting at the proposed quarry,” said Abbott after the hearing. “We also want to know if the aquaculture facilities recorded any impacts on operations, structures or equipment.”
A motion was made to hold off on any consideration of the 19 points that the application must meet until after the information was received.
The “19 points” refer to section 6.8.3 of the town’s zoning ordinance, which covers special exception permits. This project requires a special exemption permit, because while quarrying is not a prohibited use of land in Franklin, it is also not a use that has been pre-approved.
The tentative date for the continuation of the hearing will be on Oct. 6.