ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Hancock County Superior Court justice this week upheld a decision by the Bucksport Planning Board which had rejected an application from Vaughn Thibodeau & Sons for a stone quarry operation off Route 46.
The decision came earlier this week ending almost three years of debate about the proposed quarry. The company had proposed a 19-acre quarry and stone-crushing operation on a 147-acre parcel it owns on Route 46 near the Dedham town line. Area residents raised numerous concerns about the impact of the project on a rural, but residential neighborhood and formally opposed the project.
After two years of deliberation, the town’s planning board last year denied the company a permit under the site plan review ordinance, ruling that it had not met the requirements in several areas under the ordinance criteria. The town’s appeals board overturned the planning board’s decision on some of the criteria, but upheld its ruling on three specific areas regarding impacts on noise, traffic and surface and groundwater quality.
Thibodeau filed an appeal in Superior Court in November, claiming that the planning board had ignored the large amount of expert evidence the company had provided and that the board’s decisions were not supported by the evidence. The appeal documents called some of the board’s decisions “capricious” and “arbitrary.”
Justice Kevin M. Cuddy, however, disagreed. He did note that the company had indeed provided expert testimony to support its contention that the project would not have adverse impacts on traffic and water quality and that the noise levels would be within required levels. But Cuddy also said that the opponents of the project had presented evidence supporting their opposition to the quarry.
“The planning board is not bound to accept any evidence as true and has the obligation to determine credibility,” Cuddy wrote in his decision. “That the plaintiff’s evidence is inconsistent with or perhaps supports a different conclusion than the planning board’s penultimate finding on these criteria is simply not enough to war-rant reversal.”
Meanwhile, the Machias Savings Bank has foreclosed on multiple loans of Vaughn Thibodeau and Sons, and has taken possession of all the company’s property. That property, including the land in Bucksport, is scheduled to be sold at auction next week as part of the foreclosure proceedings.