Petitioners Seeking Quarry Moratorium

MOUNT DESERT — Opponents of a granite quarrying operation in the village of Hall Quarry have collected enough signatures on a petition to trigger a town meeting vote on a six-month moratorium on quarrying in Mount Desert.

The moratorium is needed, according to the petition, to allow time for the town’s land use zoning ordinance to be amended “to assure responsible placement and management” of quarrying activities.

Hall Quarry residents Gerald and Laurie Shencavitz and some of their neighbors have complained about noise from a nearby quarry, which had been worked only occasionally over the last few decades until stone-cutting activity intensified last year. Freshwater Stone, which leases the quarry from Harold MacQuinn, Inc., agreed to temporarily halt quarrying there. But company officials have said they want to resume removing granite and intend to apply for a permit for “mineral extraction.”

On July 16, several Hall Quarry residents asked the board of selectmen to call for a special town meeting on the moratorium question. The board denied their request on a 3-2 vote.

One week later, a moratorium petition with 161 signatures was submitted to town clerk Joelle Nolan. She said Tuesday afternoon that 132 of those who signed the petition are registered voters in Mount Desert, which is more than the number needed to force a town meeting vote.

According to the town charter, selectmen can refuse to call for a  vote if a petition advocates something that is “moot, illegal or impossible.” Otherwise, the selectmen have 45 days to schedule a vote, and the vote must be held within 60 days after that. It is possible, therefore, that the moratorium question could be on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election and would not require a special town meeting before then.

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Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]