EDDINGTON, Maine — A longtime teacher and residents Thursday night questioned the safety of having a rock quarry less than a half mile from the Eddington Elementary School, and the possible noise and dust problems from blasting and digging near the school and homes in town.
“Everybody in Eddington values our quality of life … and it would be a terrible shame for that to be lost,” said Riverside Drive resident Susan Brawley.
Town planners are considering a second rock quarry application from Hughes Bros. Inc., a Hampden-based earthwork contractor, which is trying to get permission to operate a ledge quarry on Fox Hill that would start out as a 5-acre operation and possibly grow to 20 acres.
The company’s first application, for a 10-acre quarry, was denied by the Eddington Planning Board in October, after a two-hour review.
Thursday’s public hearing on the proposed quarry started with 1 hour and 45 minutes of presentations by Hughes Bros. and their attorney that covered the items of concern raised with the first application, including the location of the entrance, possible contaminants stirred up by the blasting and noise and dust levels.
“That was a dog and pony show just for the audience,” said Ralph McLeod of Holden, whose son and family live on Fox Hill. “It went on so long, some people were leaving.”
Afterward, residents took turns approaching the microphone to express their concerns.
Jim White, who said he lives at the bottom of Fox Hill, said he too is worried about noise, but more importantly is worried about the future and what happens to the little guy.
“They brought their attorneys tonight. That is a little intimidating,” White said. “I’m on my own. I didn’t bring an attorney.”
David McCluskey, who sits on the local school board, said the company has a history of setting up shop in small towns with few or no regulations, which includes Eddington.
“They look for town like ours who have minimal ordinances that they can come into,” he said, adding there are no rules saying the company can’t break up the 190 acres into smaller lots for sale.
Longtime teacher Pam Dorr told the crowd of around 150 that she doesn’t understand “how anybody would want to come into a community and build a quarry in proximity to an elementary school,” and ended by saying she knows the project is driven by “the almighty dollar.”
At the end of the lengthy meeting, planning board members endorsed a 180-day moratorium on quarries that must also be approved by town selectmen and residents before it is put into place.