LAMOINE — In a déjà vu evening for most involved, the Planning Board met March 21 to begin reviewing permit applications for Harold MacQuinn Inc.’s, proposed gravel pit expansion off Douglas Highway.
MacQuinn would like to expand his Kittridge Pit from 45 acres to 110 acres. He would extract gravel from land now owned by Ralph and Mary Miro that features a hill with a distinctive cross at the top.
The 40-foot cross on Cousins Hill has been up since 1995. The Miros erected it to protest a court ruling that they excavated granite without a permit.
MacQuinn’s purchase of the Miro land is contingent on approval of the permits.
The board March 21 quickly approved MacQuinn’s Site Plan Review pre-application and set another meeting for April 18 at 7 p.m. to decide on the completeness of the site plan and gravel permit applications.
It is the second time at the rodeo for all involved. However this time the configuration of the Planning Board has changed.
MacQuinn challenged the Planning Board’s refusal to give the company the go-ahead in 2014 and claimed two members, Gordon Donaldson and board Chairman David Holt, were biased.
Donaldson chose not to run again for the Planning Board and Holt at the start of the meeting at the town office March 21 recused himself.
Holt’s stepping aside on this matter was part of an out-of-court settlement between MacQuinn and the town.
MacQuinn asserted Holt is a board member of Cold Spring Water Co., which abuts the gravel pit, and therefore has a conflict of interest.
The consumer co-op draws water from the aquifer under the proposed expanded pit, and provides water to many homes in the area.
The chairman of the Planning Board for the current proposal is Donald Bamman along with board members Perry Fowler, Chris Tadema-Wielandt, Richard McMullen and alternate David Legere, who is filling the fifth slot on the board.
Two issues that arose at the start of the 7 p.m. meeting were requests by Carol Korty of Friends of Lamoine that board member Richard McMullen recuse himself and that her group be granted “standing” in the proceedings.
Korty quoted McMullen as saying at a public hearing on the original proposal that the town needs the jobs and that “bigger gravel pits” support his own business.
McMullen plows for the town in the winter and is a landscaper in the summer.
The board first voted 3-2 to give Friends of Lamoine standing in the matter.
“Basically, this makes them a party to the application,” said Dan Pileggi, the town attorney.
He said the group would have the right to appeal the decision and the right to be heard in court.
On whether McMullen should recuse himself, the board voted 3-0 with one abstention to support his decision not to step down.
Legere abstained, saying he was concerned about the statement made by McMullen at the public hearing.
There also was a discussion about errors in pagination in the 616-page permit applications. Attorney Edmund Bearor said the documents would be corrected.
Since the MacQuinn permit applications were filed in 2012, the old gravel ordinance will be applied.
That ordinance allowed a 50-foot setback instead of the current 100-foot setback.
The town also has since approved an ordinance barring the granting of any applications for new gravel pits within the town’s rural and agricultural zone, which encompasses most of the town.
Lamoine’s gravel ordinance allows the town to consider whether a proposed gravel operation poses an “unreasonable” threat to health, safety, erosion, sedimentation, water pollution, natural beauty, public ways and surrounding properties.
It was on this basis that the permits were denied.
The Friends of Lamoine say the area of expansion is close to what some might consider the town center.
Supporters say granite operations provide badly needed jobs and create a product necessary in road construction.
Opponents complain about increased truck traffic, noise, dust and decreasing property values.
They also say the industry is not in keeping with the town’s Comprehensive Plan.
According to the applications, MacQuinn would be extracting gravel in the expanded pit Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
MacQuinn said in its applications that Cold Water Spring is located more than 1,000 feet to the southeast of the site and is not within the spring’s recharge area.