ORONO, Maine — The Orono planning board set a deadline for Thornton Construction to address noise, dust and traffic concerns regarding the application to expand a quarry on Kelley Road.
In a unanimous vote, the board continued the application and set a date of Nov. 19 where the concerns of the board and residents need to be addressed. The board will take up the application again during the Dec. 18 meeting. The board wanted 30 days to review the materials.
The quarry sits about three-quarters of a mile north of the Orono Bog Boardwalk, which is approximately 4,200 feet long and stretches from the Bangor City Forest into the Orono Bog.
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.
Nearly 40 people filed into the town council chambers to hear discussion that only addressed whether the board would continue the application or deny it without prejudice.
The potential for noise and dust from the operation has drawn the concern of those who frequent the bog boardwalk as well as neighbors.
Ronald Davis, an Orono resident and retired scientist who studied similar bogs for 25 years, said he was not just concerned about the volume of noise, but also the pattern and nature of noise that may come from the quarry and rock excavation.
“A constant background noise that is similar that comes from a distant roadway … it’s fairly constant, and after a while, isn’t very noticeable,” said Davis. “But sporadic loud noise of the nature that would come from metal on rock is a very different matter.”
Davis was also concerned about the amount of dust that could fall onto the bog, given the bog’s sensitivity to the accumulation of dust.
Other speakers accused the construction company and the landowner, Dan LaPointe, of not taking the concerns of the bog nor the application process seriously.
The quarry is permitted and has existed on the property for decades, according to LaPointe. He’s asking to expand the quarry in order to pay bills, he said.
Dan Thornton of Thornton Construction said his company manages five other quarries and is used to performing under strict standards.
Town Planner Evan Richert suggested the board ask the company for analysis for noise, wind, traffic and dust.
Board member Kenny Fergusson recused himself from the discussion and vote because his wife, Meg, has publicly expressed her concerns of the quarry expansion.