FRANKLIN — A petition is circulating asking residents if they want town leaders to adopt a noise ordinance, and with enough signatures from registered Franklin voters, will become a question on the town’s November ballot.
The effort, said Franklin resident Debbie Carr, was prompted by an application from TC Gravel, LLC, for a special exception permit for the development of a rock quarry on the South Bay Road. The application went before the Planning Board in May during a public hearing in which the board asked the applicant to complete a sound study and water testing.
Steve Salsbury, of Herrick & Salsbury Inc., is representing the applicant and said in May that it would be months before the project goes before the Planning Board again.
Part of the approval process for a project less than 1 acre (the proposed quarry is about .91 acres) requires obtaining a “permit-by-rule” through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). That process is less intensive than if the applicant had to prepare an individual permit application to the DEP.
The town does not currently have a noise ordinance in place. Carr noted that if a noise ordinance were enacted, it would not stop the proposed quarry from going forward, but, “If any other quarries … or any other industrial-scale type operations want to come in, this will hopefully help to stop that.”
So far, 81 signatures have been garnered, surpassing the required number of 67. Circulators of the petition hope for more before presenting it to the Board of Selectmen at the end of August or September.
“Many of us were alarmed by parts of the application including the equipment to be used, loader, bulldozer, tracked rock drill, portable crusher, excavator, dump trucks and dump trailers,” Carr said. She also noted the project’s drilling, blasting and traffic in a residential, recreational and light commercial area.
Once filed, the petition would go to the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Dawn Carter, then to the town clerk to verify the signatures before going back to the Board of Selectmen, which will review the wording of the article before it appears on the ballot. If the measure passes, it would go to the Planning Board for review and any modifications.
Carter said she has not seen the petition yet and is not sure if a noise ordinance would be beneficial to the town, noting that a main factor of any ordinance is how it would be enforced.
The petition proposes in part for a sound decibel limit of 55dBA to abutting residential areas from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 45dBA from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Those figures come from the Technical Assistance Bulletin from the Maine DEP, referenced in the petition, which explains the complications that can arise from noise disturbances and considerations to be made by municipal planning offices.
“Noise has significant environmental impacts even though it is a transient occurrence,” the bulletin reads. “It does not accumulate in the environment, but its impacts can be long lasting, affecting people’s lives and property values.”
Carr thanked Karen Johnson, Becka Gagne, Shep Erhart and Mary Greene for their help in gathering signatures for the petition.