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Planning Board Minutes

Special Meeting - May 21, 2013

Planning Board Members Present: Holt, Bamman, Gallagher, Donaldson, Tadema-Wielandt, Fowler (alt)

Code Enforcement Officer Present: M. Jordan

Members of the Public: L. Lovett, C. Korty, E. Curran, P. MacQuinn, M. Deyling (Summit Engineering), S. Salsbury (representing applicant), E. Bearor (representing applicant), W. Brutsaert

Members of the Press: J. Weaver (Ells American)

Chair Holt called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. and explained that the purpose of the meeting was to hear a report from Robert Gerber of Ransom Consulting, Inc. regarding his firm's review of materials from the application of Harold MacQuinn, Inc. for Gravel Extraction Permit and Site Plan Review Permit to expand pit operations (Map 3, Lots 31 & 33). Holt reviewed the history of the application and established that the goal of the meeting was for the Board to decide what, if any, further data collection it would require in order to supply the Board and the public with adequate information to determine if the proposed operations would protect water quantity and quality.

Mr. Gerber reviewed the methods he followed in reviewing the two written reports submitted by Summit Engineering and the intervening report submitted by community member Dr. W. Brutsaert as he was requested to do under “Task 1” of the agreement for his services. See Gerber's written report to Mr. John S. Holt, Chair, Lamoine Planning Board, dated April 16, 2013.

Mr. Gerber reiterated the central goals of the investigation: Is there a clay layer extending from the East into the projected excavation area? If so, where is this “shallow” or “perched” water table and does it slope to the East recharging Cold Spring? Where is the “deep water table”? What is the relative position of these water tables to the projected bottom of the new pit (Sheet D1.0, page 136 of application; also Sheet 2.0.)? (If the excavation is permitted, will it stay safely above the 5' “buffer” to the water tables?)

Mr. Gerber concluded by stating that there is a good possibility that a layer of clay extends into the proposed pit area that slopes eastward, recharging Cold Spring and providing flowage to Archer's Brook. He recommended four wells be drilled to locate bedrock and the “deep water table” and four shallow wells to the clay layer, if present, in order to detect water levels and flow down the “shallow water table”. He further suggested that a “water balance” investigation occur in order to map flow rates and patterns around Cold Spring and into Archer's Brook.

Questions were posed by members of the Planning Board, representatives of the applicant, and the public. During discussion, Mr. Gerber made the following points:

  1. His report's recommended data-collection steps were designed to be “reasonable” with regard to their execution and cost. They are, Gerber noted, “an absolute minimum”; “if you find something in the investigation, you may need to go further”, he stated.
  2. If a clay layer is found in the proposed pit area, it is likely that one could remove gravel over it “to the five-foot separation” without affecting the watershed as the water travels eastward through the gravel layer; the saturation levels of the gravel layer would help protect such effects as well.
  3. The probability that Cold Spring is being recharged “from any other direction than the West” is “not high”. “It's got to be coming from the West”, Gerber stated (pointing to Figure 3's eastern slope).
  4. Regarding the “water balance” investigation, Gerber stated, “I'd do it”, adding that “it would really backstop” the other data to be collected.
  5. In response to a question from Gallagher about the overall threat of the project to water quality and quantity in the community in general, Gerber indicated that he had few concerns about “quantity” in the western area. Regarding “quality” he said “How you leave the pit is the other big issue… How much contamination do you want to risk?” He noted that a five-foot buffer “is a good standard”.

Discussion ensued about what steps the Board should require of the applicant. M. Beyling suggested a “staged” plan for data collection starting with the shallow wells at PB-3 and PB-4 to see if they detected the clay layer. If those results are favorable for the project, the remaining steps recommended by Mr. Gerber would then be undertaken. Comments were made regarding the wisdom of specifying the methods of the investigation vs. simply stating what information needs to be collected. Mr. Gerber reminded the Board and applicant that “Task 3” in his firm's agreement with the town required him to evaluate the report submitted by the applicant; it will be important that the data are complete and valid.

Donaldson (Tadema-Wielandt) moved to require the applicant:

  1. to determine whether a clay layer exists under the projected pit area and, to the extent possible, to determine its location (shallow water table wells at PB-1 through PB-4);
  2. to determine if this clay layer, if present, slopes to the eastward and the likelihood that it feeds the recharge of Cold Spring;
  3. to determine an estimate of groundwater recharge from the proposed pit area and other areas contributing to the Cold Spring water supply by performing a water balance study by estimating the average annual withdrawal from the water supply and adding that to the average annual flow estimate for Archer's Brook and back-calculating how much recharge area is needed to provide that amount of average annual flow and how that recharge area might be distributed based on the available geologic data;
  4. to locate the deep water table at PB-1 through PB-4 as described in Gerber's report.

It is the Board's understanding that the applicant will determine the order of the investigation steps but that all data listed in the motion must be presented if the application process is to proceed. (This understanding came in response to a statement by Fowler to this effect.)

Vote: Motion approved 5-0.

2. Other Business

Donaldson expressed concern that the Planning Board has not been requested to evaluate the differences between the Lamoine Gravel Ordinance and a new gravel ordinance proposed by a citizen of the town on May 16. A brief conversation occurred during which Holt stated that the matter had been presented to the Select Board and was, thus, not official business of the Planning Board.

Adjourned at 8:38 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Gordon Donaldson, Secretary