MOUNT DESERT — The public hearing on an application for a license to operate the granite quarry owned by Harold MacQuinn, Inc. in the village of Hall Quarry is tentatively set to resume June 4.
That will be 24 months after the planning board found that MacQuinn and Freshwater Stone & Brickwork, which leases the quarry, were ineligible to even apply for a quarrying license. And it will be eight months since a judge ruled that the planning board “erred as a matter of law” in basing its decision on provisions of the town’s land use zoning ordinance (LUZO) rather than on the quarrying licensing ordinance.
Judge Michael Duddy of the Maine Business and Consumer Court ordered the planning board to reconsider its finding.
MacQuinn and Freshwater first applied for a quarrying license in June 2014. Three months later, the planning board concluded that the quarry was “a lawful, nonconforming pre-existing use,” and, therefore, the two companies could apply for a license.
But several Hall Quarry residents have maintained that the quarry had been dormant for so long that it no longer qualified for grandfathered status. The two couples who live nearest the quarry, Gerald and Laurie Shencavitz and Peter and Judy Aylen, hired attorney Daniel Pileggi to represent them before the planning board.
In June 2017 the board reversed its 2014 decision, agreeing with the neighbors that MacQuinn and Freshwater were not eligible for a license, and the two companies appealed to the town’s zoning board of appeals. When the appeals board upheld the planning board’s decision, the companies appealed to the Business and Consumer Court.
Now, in light of the judge’s ruling, the planning board must resume the public hearing on whether the proposed operation of the quarry conforms to the quarrying licensing ordinance. When the hearing ended in June 2017 with the board’s finding that MacQuinn and Freshwater weren’t eligible for a license, there were still two sections of the ordinance to be considered in determining whether the quarrying application met all of the required standards.
The application has been bouncing around for so long that two planning board members who were there at the start are no longer on the board. They have been replaced by Christie Anastasia and Joanne Eaton, and Tracy Loftus Keller is a new alternate board member.
Over the past few weeks, the board has held a series of workshops to familiarize the new members on the background of the application and the arguments for and against. The last of those workshops was last Thursday evening. That afternoon, the board went on a site visit to the quarry.
“The three [new] members have turned in their affidavits … that they’ve gotten up to speed, they’ve done their due diligence on understanding all the history of the application and that they now feel adequately informed to participate in the review of the last two remaining sections [of the ordinance],” said planning board Chairman Bill Hanley.
Those sections set standards for “noise,” which the neighbors have been most concerned about, and for “buffering and screening.”
“We have tentatively scheduled the first review for on June 4,” Hanley said.
Buffering and screening will be considered first “because that may affect considerations for noise,” he said.