MOUNT DESERT, Maine — Local selectmen have decided to extend a moratorium on mineral extraction for another 180 days, according to a town official.
The extension of the moratorium was approved by selectmen on Jan. 22, Mount Desert Town Manager Durlin Lunt said Wednesday. The goal is to have a new ordinance on mineral extraction and quarrying activities to present to voters at Mount Desert’s annual town meeting in early May, he said. Without the extension, the moratorium would have expired early next month, he said.
Now that it has been extended, the moratorium is due to expire in August, he said. If a new proposed ordinance isn’t ready in early May to be submitted for voter approval, a special town meeting could be held during the summer before the moratorium expires, according to Lunt.
“We may have to go the special town meeting route,” he said.
The moratorium, approved by local voters last November, was put in place in response to complaints from residents about a quarrying operation in the village of Hall Quarry. Village residents told town officials that the mining equipment at the site created an “ungodly” and “unbelieveable” noise that was permeating their homes.
When voters approved the moratorium last fall, it was made retroactive to Aug. 6, which is when selectmen decided to put the question on the ballot. According to Lunt, selectmen have the power to extend the moratorium for another 180 days without additional voter approval.
Attorneys representing Harold MacQuinn Inc., owner of the property, and Freshwater Stone, which was operating the quarry, have said they believe the operation is grandfathered because such activity has been consistently occurring at the site for at least the past couple of decades.
After the complaints arose, however, the companies decided to apply to the town for the appropriate permits, saying that local ordinances allowed mineral extraction in Hall Quarry.
Because the permit application was not submitted until after Aug. 6, however, officials said the operation in Hall Quarry has been subject to the moratorium.
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