ORONO, Maine — A proposal to expand a rock quarry has pitted its owner against neighbors and those who enjoy the peaceful setting of the nearby Orono Bog Boardwalk.
The quarry, located on Kelley Hill at the end of Kelley Road, is approximately three-quarters of a mile from the Orono Bog Boardwalk. Since the expansion was proposed to the Orono planning board at the end of June, it has come under fire from critics.
Dan LaPointe, 60, who owns approximately 275 acres of land including the water-filled quarry, said he wants to expand the quarry’s footprint to generate revenue. The extracted rock will come from the rock face above the water.
“What we want to do is pay bills,” he said on Monday.
Milford-based Thornton Construction submitted the application to the planning board that calls for a 1.4-acre area from which to extract rock. The proposed business activities will include crushing, screening and transporting the rock. The company has signed a memorandum of agreement with LaPointe to lease 18 acres of land for a 30-year period. The project will expand the existing quarry by approximately 30,000 square feet. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The potential for noise and dust from the operation has drawn the concern of those who frequent the bog boardwalk as well as neighbors. The boardwalk is approximately 4,200 feet long and stretches from the Bangor City Forest into the Orono Bog.
“I am very concerned that the addition of the proposed quarry operation may have harmful effects on the Orono Bog and its sensitive habitat as a result of dust fall, and will, because of increased noise levels, disrupt the solitude that visitors experience when visiting the Boardwalk,” Jim Bird, director of the Orono Bog Boardwalk, wrote in a letter to the Orono planning board on Aug. 5.
The town of Orono has received at least 28 letters from people concerned or opposed to the expanded quarry.
Because of the noise and dust concerns, the application has been continued on the board’s agenda for several meetings as the applicant conducts requested studies related to the concerns.
On Wednesday night, the planning board will address only a procedural question regarding the quarry application — whether to continue the proposal once again or whether the applicant has to start over due to lack of progress. Discussion may be heard from the public and applicant regarding only the procedural issue, Orono Town Planner Evan Richert said on Tuesday. The meeting is at 7 p.m. in the town council chambers at the town hall.
LaPointe said he would be at Wednesday’s meeting and planned on addressing the board.
Meg Fergusson, who lives less than a mile away from the quarry on Maxfield Drive, said she was worried about dust and pollutants being sent into the air.
“I’m worried about the toxicity on the plants and in our groundwater and water in general,” she said. “The trucks going back and forth — what are the trucks bringing for potential contaminants into the area?”
LaPointe said the land has been in his family for generations and he takes pride in the quality of water on the land.
“We drink the water off this property. We’re very cautious,” he said. “We have a real interest in the stewardship [of the land].”
There are dozens of vehicles on the property as part of LaPointe Enterprises Inc.’s, salvage business. LaPointe said he’s working on cleaning up the land.
The quarry, which is filled with rainwater, is about the size of a football field, said LaPointe.
Richert said there has been no crushing operation at the quarry in quite some time, although LaPointe told him the quarry is used on an on-going basis.
The rock to be extracted is ledge, which is very hard and useful in construction or decoration, said LaPointe.