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Expert: Quarry noise plan OK



MOUNT DESERT — An acoustical consultant retained by the town to evaluate granite company’s plans for minimizing noise at a quarry in the village of Hall Quarry has determined that the plans “describe the ‘best practicable means’ for reducing noise and meet the standards set by the [town’s] Quarrying Licensing Ordinance. 

Gregory Tocci, principal consultant with Cavanaugh Tocci Associates in Sudbury, Mass., issued that opinion in a four-page report to Town Manager Durlin Lunt. 

Harold MacQuinn, Inc., which owns the one-acre quarry, and Freshwater Stone, which wants to extract the granite, applied to the town for a quarrying license more than five years ago. Since then, in multiple Planning Board hearings, a number of Hall Quarry residents have expressed opposition to the resumption of quarrying. In particular, they cited the amount of noise generated by quarrying, saying it greatly diminishes their quality of life and property values. 

Last November, MacQuinn and Freshwater Stone proposed that the Planning Board impose certain conditions on the quarrying license including construction of an earthen berm around the edge of the quarry, with trees planted on top of the berm to act as a sound buffer. They also proposed placing a three-sided, 10-foot-tall portable sound barrier “between any drill and the nearest homes.” 

The companies said they would adhere to “other best industry practices for noise attenuation.” 

In meetings over the past six months, the Planning Board has heard from sound experts hired by both the companies and some of the neighbors who oppose the resumption of quarrying. But board members said that, even after hearing the experts’ testimony and reviewing all the documents presented, they still were not sure whether the sound-suppression measures proposed by Freshwater and MacQuinn would be adequate.  

So, in March, they authorized the board’s attorney, James Collier, to retain Cavanaugh Tocci to review those proposed measures and provide an opinion on their likely effectiveness. 

Gregory Tocciin his letter to Lunt, offered a few suggestions for improving sound control. He also expressed some doubt about the adequacy of the proposed berm around the top of the quarry. He said it might not be tall enough to act as an effective barrier between the source of noise and some of the nearby homes. 

Tocci also dismissed the idea that the amount of noise leaving the quarry could be reduced by planting trees atop the berm. 

“Though foliage can provide visual screening, it provides no reduction in noise,” he wrote in his report. 

Overall, though, Tocci said it is his opinion that the sound attenuation measures proposed by Freshwater and MacQuinn meet the requirements of the town’s ordinance. 

The Planning Board has not yet set a date for continuing its deliberations on the quarrying license application. 

 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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