May 25, 2018
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Orono town council to examine noise, land use ordinances in wake of quarry application

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — In the wake of a quarry expansion application on the Kelley Road, Orono residents have asked town officials to impose noise limits and land use restrictions.

Last month, the town council unanimously voted to continue an application for an expansion on a quarry at the end of Kelley Road, located approximately three-quarters of a mile away from the Orono Bog Boardwalk. Several residents living near the quarry expressed concern about noise and dust that might be generated from the quarry.

Currently, there is no noise ordinance specifically for the low density residential, or LDR, district, located east and along Stillwater Avenue.

“Loud noises, even on a short term, can be very disruptive,” Orono resident Kenny Fergusson said during the Nov. 13 community development committee meeting. Fergusson said his daughter had a friend over when there was some blasting unrelated to the quarry nearby. “My daughter’s playmate ended up under the table. It disrupted them so much.”

During the meeting, some of those same residents who voiced opposition to the quarry expansion asked the community development committee to look at revising the noise ordinance for the LDR district as well as examine allowed uses in the LDR district.

Orono Town Planner Evan Richert said the LDR district was created as a hybrid between rural and residential districts.

The town updated a portion of its comprehensive plan five years ago to create the LDR district, said Richert.

“The town council wanted to take a good, careful look at the forestry and agriculture district and the degree of how the residential area was advancing into that district,” he explained.

The LDR district was created to try to accommodate both rural and residential use of the same district.

Several residents argued that because more and more people are moving into the LDR district and it is becoming less of a rural area, noise and land use ordinances should be revised.

“I don’t think having a large rock quarry will fit the bill in drawing people to the area,” said Meg Fergusson, Kenny’s wife.

Dan LaPointe, owner of the quarry, was initially upset at the committee’s discussions regarding changing ordinances, but later commended the committee for quieting his concerns.

“This is just a vendor providing a service. I’m willing to talk with the people if they’re willing to talk with me of what their concerns are and we’ll try to meet in the middle,” LaPointe said toward the end of the meeting. He did not mention what level of noise the quarry might produce.

Committee member Geoff Gordon said the town had to be careful in how it modifies rights to accommodate each other.

The committee charged the comprehensive planning committee to review noise and allowed use ordinances. The process of changing those ordinances could take between several months to more than a year, well past the time when the town council will make a decision on whether to grant or deny the quarry expansion application, said Richert.

If the quarry expansion is granted, it would be grandfathered into current ordinances despite changes that could be made in the future, he said.

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