EDDINGTON, Maine — After a more than two-hour review, the town’s planning board Thursday denied a Hampden earthwork contractor’s application to operate a 10-acre ledge quarry on Fox Hill.
Hughes Bros. Inc., also a construction material supplier, planned to use explosives to extract the rock, which then would be hauled from the site. The company’s environmental engineer, Janet Hughes, said that the company planned to operate at the site through 2023, but noted that was an estimate.
During deliberations, board members noted that while the application itself was complete, individual sections did not adequately address concerns about potential adverse effects to the groundwater, to scenic, historical and archeological resources and wildlife and animal habitat.
They also ruled that the applicant had only partially proved that the quarry would not impinge on its neighbors’ “peaceful enjoyment” of their land by exposure to noise, vibrations, fumes, odors, glare and dust.
Vice Chairman Susan Dunham-Shane said portions of the application — such as the section on water quality and quantity — lacked the level of detail she was looking for.
“We have to be really careful when we’re doing something like this,” she said, “Don’t think I’m being overly picky but water is a very important commodity. People pay a lot of money for equipment to get a well in and they want to have a well that’s going to continue. I would say that the applicant’s response has not answered, proved definitively, that it would not adversely affect [groundwater].”
Before the board voted to deny the application, Hughes asked that the company be allowed to provide the information that members said was lacking.
“We felt that we had [met the requirements of] many of your ordinances and based on past actions, we actually thought we were doing a stellar job in comparison to the 5-acre quarry [initially proposed by the former landowner]. All we’re asking is that you make that motion to request additional information,” she said.
After the vote, Hughes said the company plans to move forward with its plan to mine rock from Fox Hill but added that it was not yet clear if it would reduce the scope of the operation, apply or file an appeal. As Hughes sees it, the 10-acre quarry would have been a better project in that it would be subject to more environmental safeguards than a smaller operation.
The plan has generated some controversy in the community, drawing dozens of opponents to meetings and public hearings. About 40 residents, many from nearby Fox Lane and Coffey Hill Way, were on hand for Thursday’s review. Among them was Nichole McLeod, whose husband, James McLeod, is a merchant marine.
“I have two little boys, a 4-year-old and an almost 2-year-old,” she said. “We bought the house two years ago, thinking it was going to be a quiet, nice neighborhood and beautiful scenery.” Among her worries are truck traffic and her children’s safety. “I worry about our well, our foundation. I worry about the sound all day long, for 20 plus years. All of it is ‘we hope’ is what’s coming from [Hughes]. I haven’t seen a sound study, I haven’t seen anything.
“The No. 1 thing we’re worried about is our property value. We just bought two years ago. My husband works six months out of the year half a world away to pay for this house and they’re going to come in and lower the value of our house,” she said. The views from her home, she said, are “just beautiful. We can see Mount Katahdin. Sometimes we can see [Mount] Cadillac, the [Penobscot] river. This is the for-the-rest-of-our-life home.”
Plans to open a quarry on Fox Hill first came before the Planning Board in June, when resident Frank Arisimeek said he wanted to operate a quarry with Sargent Corp. as part of the Veazie Dam removal project, according to town documents.
Arisimeek’s initial plan was to harvest rock from up to an acre of his 5-acre property and that the quarry would be removed when the dam project was done. The board issued a permit for that proposal. Sargent Corp., however, back out of its plan and Arisimeek sold his land to Hughes.
An earlier version of this story reported that Janet Hughes said, "we were doing a hell of a job." She said, "we were doing a stellar job."