LAMOINE, Maine — An application to expand the permitted size of a local gravel pit to 110 acres has been found to be complete by the local planning board.
The next step is to hold a public hearing on the proposal, which would make the Kittredge Pit one of the largest mining sites in Maine. According to information from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the 110-acre gravel pit off Route 184 would be tied with a site in Limerick as the 18th-largest quarry or gravel pit in the state.
A public hearing on the proposal, submitted by Harold MacQuinn Inc., has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 8, at the local town office. If there is enough advance interest in the public hearing, the location could be moved to Lamoine Consolidated School, according to John Holt, Lamoine’s planning board chairman.
The gravel pit expansion, if approved, would result in the removal of a large cross that has loomed high on a hill for the past 17 years.
The cross, estimated to be about 40 feet tall, has been on the hill overlooking Route 184 since 1995. Ralph and Mary Miro, owners of the property, erected the metal cross to protest a 1990 court ruling that found they had violated local ordinances by extracting gravel from their land without a permit. The couple ended up paying a fine of more than $59,000 to the town in 1993.
If the town approves MacQuinn’s application, the firm would buy the Miros’ parcel and combine it with an adjacent property it owns to create the expanded gravel pit.
The local planning board met Tuesday night to go over documents submitted for the proposal to make sure all the required or requested information had been provided. Holt said that, following the public hearing, the board will begin a qualitative review of the documents to see if the project meets the town’s land use standards.
Holt said that, depending on what information might come up at the public hearing or in the board’s qualitative review, it could request more documentation from the applicant. He said MacQuinn will have to get two permits from the town, one for site plan approval and another for gravel extraction, before it can proceed with the gravel pit expansion. The applications for both permits are being reviewed simultaneously by the planning board.
According to DEP statistics, the largest open permitted mining site in Maine is a 345-acre quarry in Poland. Ranked behind the Poland site are a 238-acre gravel pit in Dayton, a 231-acre gravel pit in New Gloucester, and a 200-acre gravel pit in Hampden. If approved, the proposed 110-acre gravel pit in Lamoine would be the largest in Hancock County.
Mark Stebbins, mining coordinator for DEP, wrote Wednesday in an email that the state agency already has approved MacQuinn’s application to expand the Kittredge Pit.
MacQuinn Inc. is being represented by land surveyor Steve Salsbury and the Lewiston firm Summit Environmental in the planning board review of its application. In response to questions Tuesday night from members of the planning board, Salsbury and Michael Deyling, president of Summit, said that MacQuinn is not going to disturb a wetland that would be in the expanded permit area and that the gravel extraction operation is not expected to affect groundwater supplies in the immediate surrounding area.
MacQuinn also recently sought approval in the neighboring town of Hancock to expand another gravel site, known as Higgins Pit, that straddles the Lamoine-Hancock border. Rod and Ruth Franzius, secretary and chairman of the Hancock planning board, said Wednesday that MacQuinn was granted an after-the-fact approval last month to expand operations at that pit, which is 84 acres in size, by nearly seven additional acres. The Franziuses said the company initially did not seek town approval for that expansion because of confusion about whether it needed such approval
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.