LAMOINE — Appeals Board members could issue a final decision next month on whether to allow a large gravel pit operation to move forward alongside Douglas Highway.
When board members meet May 8, they will walk the site of the proposed pit expansion and begin deliberations on whether to allow the pit. If their discussions run late into the evening, they’ll hold another meeting on May 9.
The decision has been a long time coming. Harold MacQuinn Inc. initially applied for an expansion to the Kittridge pit in 2012. The plan would increase the site from 45 acres to 110. When the Planning Board denied the application, the Hancock-based contracting company sued Lamoine officials, claiming that some of the board members were biased.
In November, because of a settlement from that lawsuit, a new set of Planning Board members again denied the application. The case was brought to the Appeals Board
The board will actually be issuing two decisions: on the gravel permit and the site plan review, both of which are required by town rules. The gravel permit is being decided in a “de novo” manner, meaning board members will be taking an independent look at the case and ruling themselves about whether the expansion should be allowed.
For the site plan review, Appeals Board members will be deciding whether the Planning Board erred in its process.
“We have volumes that we’ve gone through, and it’s been very thorough,” said Appeals Board Chairman Hancock “Griff” Fenton, referring to paperwork cataloging information about the aquifer underneath the proposed site, studies conducted regarding the effects of gravel pits on home valuations and the potential effect of the project on a nearby public water supply.
Regardless of the Appeals Board’s decision, any group with standing could file a lawsuit seeking a ruling on the case.
“We try to do the best job we can for the town and for the parties involved,” Fenton said. “If they want to take it to court, it’s up to them … we don’t really have that in our mind at all.”