Gravel permit application renewed in Lamoine

LAMOINE — The Planning Board unanimously approved with conditions Monday the gravel permit application for Harold MacQuinn Inc. to continue its gravel operations at the Kittridge Pit along Douglas Highway. 

The renewal comes a year before the current permit expires but is a necessary step for the construction company to apply for a separate project at the Kittridge Pit: a new work road.

The board on Monday also approved the preapplication for the work road but pushed its completeness review to the board’s next meeting.

Concerns quickly arose over meeting procedure.

At the meeting, Chairman John Holt recused himself from commenting on the gravel permit application due to his conflict of interest from his involvement with Cold Spring Water Co., an abutter to the pit. The board’s secretary, Steve Gabel-Richards, was unavailable to attend the meeting, prompting Holt to volunteer to take minutes.

Steve Salsbury, of Herrick & Salsbury Inc., and Ed Bearor, of Rudman Winchell, the attorney for MacQuinn, were in attendance at the meeting.

Bearor said he would like it shown in the record that he objected to Holt documenting the meeting due to Holt’s conflict of interest. Holt said he would not take the minutes due to Bearor’s objection, and Planning Board member Chris Tadema-Wielandt took over the task. 

Bearor said because Holt had recused himself from the discussion, he should not be sitting with the board, but at a seat set up for the public. Holt then decided to leave the meeting. Planning Board alternate Stewart Workman filled in for Holt to vote.

Conditions of the application’s approval include the installation of permanent boundary markers at the site, getting necessary seeding for the area by Oct. 7 and submitting a plan with “quantified and qualified” steps for the restoration of areas of the pit where unpermitted extraction has already happened. Those requests were made by Code Enforcement Officer Rebecca Albright, who said she had previously made those requests to the applicant but never received confirmation they had been done. 

Earlier in the meeting, Tadema-Wielandt called the lack of provided information “kind of a slap in the face to the code enforcement officer.”

Vice Chairman Don Bamman made a note on the application that the board would not consider the proposed work road, which was included in the gravel permit application plans, as part of the gravel permit application, and that it would have its own, separate application process.

After voting to renew the permit for the gravel operation, the board performed the site plan review permit preapplication for the proposed new work road.

Salsbury explained that the plan was “to construct an access road for the gravel operation,” and to discontinue use of the current road. The new road would provide access to 4.5 acres permitted for extraction. He said the road would be wider and less steep than the current road.

The board talked at length about whether the application required a gravel extraction permit, because more than 500 cubic yards of gravel would be removed in order to construct the road. According to the town’s ordinance, moving 500 cubic yards of gravel would require the gravel permit. 

Board members discussed how the purpose of the project was to construct a road, not extract gravel, but not requiring the gravel permit could be going against the ordinance. 

Board member Richard McMullen noted that the board does not consider gravel extraction an issue when reviewing applications for subdivisions, where removing large amounts of gravel is required.

The board voted 4-1 to proceed with reviewing the preapplication without involving the gravel ordinance. Bamman cast the sole dissenting vote. 

Resident Nick Holt expressed concern that the proposed road could be a way for the contracting company to remove more gravel, which is a worry for some residents.

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]