Quarry license denied, impact on neighbors cited 



MOUNT DESERT — The Planning Board last Wednesday denied Harold MacQuinn Inc. a license to resume quarrying in the village of Hall Quarry, citing two reasons: the incompatibility of quarrying with the surrounding residential area and an insufficiently binding easement for a road over a portion of a neighbor’s property. 

The vote for denial was 5-0. 

If MacQuinn, which owns the quarry site and leases it to Freshwater Stone, wishes to contest the Planning Board’s decision, it has 30 days to file an appeal with the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals. 

At its Jan. 12 meeting, the Planning Board passed two motions having to do with the road easement. MacQuinn had received an easement from abutting property owner Michael Musetti that stated, “Except for an emergency, the grantee [MacQuinn] shall not undertake any construction or maintenance on the easement area without prior consent of the grantor [Musetti], such consent not to be unreasonably withheld.” 

The board’s attorney, James Collier, and board member Dave Ashmore said that wording was not sufficiently binding, and all of the other board members agreed. They passed a motion stating, “As it is impractical to obtain Mr. Musetti’s approval to repair and maintain the road, the applicant has not shown sufficient evidence of title right or interest.” 

The second motion the board passed Jan. 12 stated that, under the Quarrying Licensing Ordinance, MacQuinn has a responsibility to maintain the road, “But the applicant cannot fulfill that duty because of the limitations of the aforementioned easement.” 

Because of that, the board said, the quarrying license application should be denied.  

But board member Meredith Randolph and others said they felt frustrated that, while they had voted over the last few years on whether MacQuinn’s plans for the quarry met the individual performance standards set forth in the ordinance, they had not taken a position on whether, overall, the quarry would have an unacceptable impact on the surrounding residential community. For example, in October 2020 the board voted 3-2 that MacQuinn’s plans for reducing noise met both industry standards and the requirements of the town’s quarrying ordinance. But Randolph said that doesn’t mean the quarry wouldn’t generate too much noise. 

The board postponed a final decision so members could consider whether to cite any reasons – other than the road easement issue – for rejecting the license application. 

At the meeting last Wednesday, Collier summarized what he said was their overriding concern about the quarry: “Despite all the nit-picking over all the standards, the real complaint is that people [in Hall Quarry] don’t want it and they’re upset and they don’t think it’s good for their community.” 

The Quarrying Licensing Ordinance, which voters adopted in 2013, states that its purpose is to establish “minimum removal and reclamation standards” for quarrying. 

But it goes on to state, “These standards and procedures are intended to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare; and to minimize the adverse impact of quarrying to the town, abutting property owners, citizens of the town, and wildlife and natural resources.” 

Board members said that, even if they determined that a proposed quarry operation meets all the prescribed standards, they also should consider the impact on the health and welfare of abutting property owners and others, a number of whom they heard from in public hearings over the years. 

Synthesizing the sentiments of the board, Collier drafted a motion that read: “The board heard testimony over many years from numerous neighbors…that they lived in a quiet, rural residential neighborhood – indeed, the quarry is proposed in an area that is zoned Residential 1, where industrial uses are generally not allowed – and that their health, especially their healthy state of mind and general welfare, were and will be negatively affected by a quarrying operation. Therefore…the application should be denied, as a quarry use would negatively impact the public health and general welfare of the surrounding residential neighborhood.” 

The motion passed 5-0. 

Collier said he understood the board’s desire to cite neighbors’ health and welfare as a reason for denying the quarrying license, but he said it “may not hold up in court.” 

If MacQuinn contests the Planning Board’s decision and the Board of Appeals sides with the Planning Board, MacQuinn could take the matter to court. 

Collier had indicated he felt more confident about citing the road easement as a reason for denying the quarrying license. But several board members said they were concerned that MacQuinn might be able to obtain a more airtight easement and thus eliminate or weaken that objection as a reason for denying the license. 

MacQuinn applied for the license in 2014. 

 

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]
Dick Broom

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