MOUNT DESERT — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has ruled that a granite quarrying operation in Hall Quarry does not need state approval. That means the Mount Desert Planning Board can resume its consideration of the quarry owner’s application for a license from the town.
The continuation of the board’s public hearing on the application is set for Aug. 11.
The hearing, which began in January, was suspended in March after a DEP official ruled that the quarry owner, Harold MacQuinn Inc., needed to file a notice of intent to comply with state groundwater and other environmental standards. State law requires such compliance for quarries covering more than an acre.
MacQuinn’s original application said that only about an acre of the quarry would be worked initially, but once that acre had been exhausted, the operation might move to other sections of the six-acre site.
Mark Stebbins, mining coordinator in the DEP’s Bureau of Land and Water Quality, said in a March 20 email to Mount Desert Code Enforcement Officer Kim Keene that “the department has determined there is a clear intent to expand the existing quarry by approximately 4.3 acres.”
MacQuinn has since submitted a revised application that limits the area of quarrying to one acre. Based on that change, Stebbins has concluded that MacQuinn does not have to file a notice of intent to comply with the performance standards required for larger quarries.
Land use consultant Stephen Salsbury, who is working with MacQuinn on the project, said the revised application for a quarrying license includes no significant changes “other than the proposal to stay within the footprint that already exists.”
“Our original proposal showed what it might look like going out 30 or 40 years,” Salsbury said. “But to stay away from the DEP for now, we’re just going to work with what we’ve got. We figure that will give us five or 10 years.”
The MacQuinn quarry is the only one required to apply for a license from the town under an ordinance that Mount Desert voters approved at the 2014 annual town meeting. And no new quarries are allowed.
Several people who live near the quarry have expressed strong opposition to the resumption of quarrying. They have cited, in particular, the noise generated by quarrying equipment, which they say diminishes both their quality of life and property values.
If MacQuinn is granted a quarrying license, the quarry would be operated by Freshwater Stone of Orland.
The hearing on Aug. 11 begins at 6 p.m. in the municipal building on Sea Street in Northeast Harbor.