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Lamoine Planning Board Minutes

Public Hearing - January 8, 2013

Planning Board Members Present: Holt, Bamman, Tadema-Wielandt, Weber, Gallagher, Fowler, and Donaldson

CEO Jordan

Members of the Public: P. MacQuinn, S. Salsbury, E. Bearor, M. Walsh and M. Deyling (Summit Engineering)

About 140 members of the public. (all chairs filled and 30-40 standing)

Hearing called to order at 6:33 p.m. by Chair Holt. The Chair explained the purpose of the hearing (for the Board to receive public comment) and outlined the proposed development for which permits are requested. He also announced that everyone wishing to speak will have that opportunity; no speaker can speak again until all have spoken once; all questions or comments are to be directed through the Chair.

Michelle MacQuinn spoke in support of the application; has lived next to a pit for 17 years and has never had difficulties with water or operations; her taxes have “not gone down”. Gravel operations are a “source of employment”.

Joan Strout opined that, if a permit is issued, it should be limited in duration and in the amount of gravel extracted so that the Town can assess the impacts on the town. The proposed operation is so large that it is difficult to predict its impacts.

Robin Emery inquired as to what benefits this pit would have for the town. She noted that trucks, dust, and noise have been problems and that she can see little benefit to approving one more gravel operation in Lamoine.

Glen Manring (neighbor) indicated that he's never had any problem with MacQuinn. As long as the corporation is following federal and state laws, he supports their application. It's a legitimate source of employment for local people.

[E. Bearor noted that the applicant will want to pursue later a comment made by Manring that he had been approached by “members of the Planning Board” regarding this application.]

Susan Wuorinen read a statement regarding the wetlands located within the projected pit (See written submission.), questioning the likelihood that the wetland would not be harmed. She expressed concern about negative impacts on the quality of air, water, and land in Lamoine.

Willem Brutsaert presented a powerpoint review of Summit Engineering's hydrogeologic study. (See submission.) He is a resident of Lamoine and emeritus professor of engineering at the University of Maine; his field is hydrology. He expressed concern that this pit will undercut the water supply to the Cold Spring Water Company. He noted that the sand and gravel aquifer is disappearing “one gravel pit at a time”. He explained how the terminal floor of the proposed pit (70') is considerably lower than the spring feeding Cold Spring Water Company (at 130'). His evaluation of the Summit report yielded the following:

  1. Observation wells MW 3 and MW1 are dry and therefore “tell us nothing”. Observation well OW1 “is compromised because it is at the bottom of this pit”. This leaves only MW2 as a useful well for this evaluation.
  2. Cold Spring Water Company's wells provide important information. Elevations of water in the four observation wells here range between 130 and 140'. Pressure gradients explain that the flow of groundwater here is to the Southeast and Southwest on either side of the ridge – toward and under CSWCo. This contradicts Summit's conclusion that the flow is Northward, away from CSWCo.
  3. Confirming this, we can see groundwater “leaking” from the “toe” of the hill to the Southeast; at one time it was the source of Archer's Brook (now difficult to determine because of the gravel mining on the South side of Mill Rd).
  4. MW3 is dry, but the nearby CSWCo. observation well is at 130'. MW3 must be drilled down to bedrock to make a definitive determination.
  5. He questions Summit's conclusion that CSW is charged by a small “perched” water table. If this were true, it would be a much slower flow and it would likely be intermittent (which it is not). And he questions their conclusion that the water table runs fairly straight from MW2 (80') to OW1 (25'), ignoring the possibility that there is a “mounded water table”, which is common in such configurations. A mounded water table would explain the pressure and high flow rate at CSW.

Brutsaert finished by reading his three conclusions (See submission.) and by remarking that Summit's conclusion that the water flow is Northward disagrees with a study by S.W. Cole in the vicinity showing that the water flow is to the South, underneath Cold Spring.

Bearor inquired if this was the time for the applicant and their experts to respond to speakers.

Holt indicated that we will hear all speakers and that the Board will likely study these materials and that we will have the next phase of analysis and discussion at a future meeting. He emphasized that there will be ample opportunity to provide further information.

Yvonne Brann. A customer of Cold Water Spring Company. The Branns and other CWSCo. members have experienced water shortages in the past; she is concerned that nothing be done to risk a repeat of this experience and asked that the Board look into it.

Paul Davis. Spoke to the negative impacts of dump trucks: noise, traffic hazard, dust, fumes. The application would increase this danger. He also represents the Frenchman's Bay Shellfish Conservation group (title?); they are very concerned about the effects of run-off from “all this digging” on the shellfish industry, especially Jordan River.

Charlotte Stevens. Made a plea for “the aesthetics” aspect of this plan. Cousins Hill is a place to walk, ride, ski, and run. The traffic is a hazard. “If we lose Cousins Hill, we will forever change the balance of nature and environment… It's going to have a huge impact on our reputation as a great place to live and to visit.”

Bob Christie. Spoke in opposition based on his assessment that the 110 acre pit will affect the very heart of the community because of its proximity to school, church, Grange, and those living at the Corner. “This is a matter of the quality of life of this community.”

Catherine de Tuede addressed some economic concerns. (See submission.) Gravel extraction, she argued, has permanently removed 400 acres of residential property from the town's tax rolls, reducing the tax revenues permanently. Cited a realtor's assessment that gravel pits do reduce land values in the vicinity of the pit.

Linwood Brann. Expressed his concern that the water company might go under as a result of this project, noting that he “hoped MacQuinn is ready to drill wells for the 700 people who are now on Cold Water Spring.”

Alita Liberty. Spoke in opposition. Has found the hill a place for prayer and recreation and regrets this application. She read a poem to express her feelings about “that beautiful mountain” and hopes “that we can all preserve it together”.

Jeff Lamont. 950 Douglas Highway. Losing Cousin's Hill in his backyard will definitely have “adverse” effects on his life and property.

Bob Pulver, speaking for the Lamoine Conservation Commission. See submission for the CC's recommendations to the Board to seek further information before making a decision.

Richard McMullen. Spoke in support of the applications. Believes it will bring “much needed jobs” to the area. He spoke of relying on “the bigger gravel pits” in town to support his own business. “We do need them”, he said.

Joanne Lawrence. Submitted information regarding successful practices for restoration of gravel pits (in Germany and in Alaska). She is “pro-business”. Her major concern is that restoration must be done along the way, not all at the end. She hopes that MacQuinn Inc will do well. But she wants “strong measures” to monitor it “along the way to ensure that Lamoine will not inherit a scarred landscape.”

Lolly Lovett. Expressed concerns about the large number of acres in town that has been turned into gravel pits, about the truck traffic, and about the impacts on land values around pits. In the latter regard, she worries that lower land values inland will drive her taxes up on the shore.

Eric Hartman. Spoke in opposition. “Lamoine has given plenty of gravel… it is time to move on; it's time to allow the community to develop in a new way… It's time for the community to change.”

Nicholas Birdsall. A past truck operator. Speaking in support of the application. Pits do bring jobs to the area. He and his wife chose to buy a house in Lamoine knowing that there were a lot of pits here. It's a three-year permit. We need to monitor it once it's in operation.

John Smith. A gravel pit owner. Home owners, the community, the state need gravel to build homes and roads. He wondered if the pit as proposed needs to be as deep as proposed. But he notes that “everybody benefits” from gravel pits and urged everyone “to take a closer look at this.”

David Schick. If this project is approved, it will be “a huge addition” to the total acreage in Lamoine currently being mined. He is concerned about wildlife habitat, the loss of backlands, and the impacts of this project on wildlife, noting that there was in 2007 a deer wintering area in the area to be encompassed by these permits. Urged the Board to examine this issue more carefully.

Carol Korty. Noting that “this is the only livable planet in the whole universe and we're using it up rapidly,” she repeated “scientists' conclusions” that the aquifer under this project is not renewable and is in jeopardy. She has been involved in water research in Lamoine, monitoring for negative effects on the water in the aquifer (none has yet been found). She urges “conservative approaches” to such projects; once the water table is fouled, it's gone. She also wondered about the usefulness of this property once the project is complete.

Chuck Weber. Concerned about the scope of 110 more acres to be opened up and the duration (going at least 50 years out) of this operation “to bring this mountain down”. It will diminish the desirability of Lamoine as a place to live in; visual pollution; and noise pollution. Concerned about property values in the vicinity due to the noise and visual pollution. The Comprehensive Plan projects us as a bedroom community; and this is not compatible with that goal.

Stewart Workman. Neighbor of MacQuinn, Inc. in North Lamoine. Has had no issues whatever with MacQuinn trucks or operations. Notes that the noise is usually contained between 7 a.m. and nightfall; noise from gravel operations is not as bad as regular traffic on Rte 184. Never had any dust issues either. Nice to have gravel handy. Property value of his home has not been an issue. His well is 500' from the pit and it “hasn't bothered it a bit.”

Valerie Sprague. Remarks that on the Mill Rd. she and her family have experienced a great deal of (“excruciating”) noise from a pit in their vicinity. Trees have been cut, increasing the impact of this noise; she cannot go outdoors to relax. She settled where she did because it was residential, and now she's thinking she needs to “look elsewhere”. She is “definitely opposed to it… I've experienced quiet…and I've experienced ‘the other side'”.

Robert Alley. Noted that the application says there will be no additional trucks or truck traffic. He supports the project.

Stuart Branch. Remarks that the town needs to be concerned about the ordinance and to make sure that the ordinances express what the town wants. If this application is decided in a way that many citizens believe is wrong for the community, we should address this through ordinance revision.

Michael Brann. Urges that we “err on the side of conservatism… We know what we have now. We don't know what we'll have if this goes through.”

Joan Strout. “In my lifetime, enormous changes have happened… And we don't know what's going to happen next. So…to all parties…you have to be awfully, awfully careful.”

Holt closed the Public Hearing at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Gordon Donaldson, Secretary