June 18, 2018
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Despite neighbor complaints, Bangor planners support quarry operation

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Despite a litany of complaints from neighbors, members of the city’s planning board unanimously agreed Tuesday night to allow a Union Street quarry operator to keep drilling, blasting and crushing rock for another few years.

The quarry, operated by Bangor excavation contractor Randy Gardner, originally was approved in June 2006 and is located on a 59-acre parcel at 1554V Union Street owned by Harvey Sprague.

The request the board approved adds 5.25 acres to an existing 6.98-acre quarry operation and extends its conditional use and site development approval — which lapsed in July — for three more years.

However, members also imposed a condition that operating hours be limited to 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

The decision to allow the operation to continue and grow did not sit well with residents of nearby neighborhoods, including Sunny Hollow and Yankee Avenue.

Part of the conflict seems to stem from the fact that part of the city is growing and changing. Though classified as a rural residence and agriculture district, the quarry property is in a developing area of the city that abuts residential areas as well as Brown Woods, a city park.

During a public hearing before the board’s vote, several of the roughly dozen opponents who turned up aired complaints about noise from drilling, blasting and rock crushing, blasting without what they considered adequate notice and preblast surveys that were not offered to newer arrivals to the area.

Resident Deborah Turcotte said she and her daughters had been awakened by trucks rumbling by in the wee hours of the morning.

Jane Winship, who recently bought a retirement home, said the quarry didn’t fit in with what the area has become. She said she was appalled that the quarry was allowed to operate after its approval lapsed this summer, an issue that went unaddressed by the board and city staff at the meeting.

Her stance regarding the quarry expansion?

“I’m against it. Big time,” Winship said.

Gardner acknowledged Tuesday that the operation had made some missteps, including a blasting operation a month ago that went over decibel limits, but he said claims that trucks were hauling rock out of the quarry through the wee hours of the morning were overstated. That, he said, happened only once and stopped immediately after the first complaint came in.

Not all neighbors were opposed to the quarry. David Gould, city planning officer, said the planning staff received three letters of support from Union Street property owners.

During the meeting, Gardner said the blasting part of the operation is handled by Maine Drilling and Blasting, a subcontractor which hires an independent company to conduct preblast surveys of nearby homes. Gardner said during the meeting that blasting has occurred twice a year on average since the quarry opened.

To ensure residents are being notified of blasting, the city engineer is maintaining a phone list. Gardner said there are now about 30 names on it. Those who want to be added should call City Hall.

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