MOUNT DESERT — A Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) official has determined that the proposed operation of a granite quarry in the village of Hall Quarry must comply with state environmental regulations.
The quarry is owned by Harold MacQuinn Inc., which has applied for a license from Mount Desert to resume operations following the town’s adoption of a licensing ordinance last year. The quarry would be operated by Freshwater Stone.
Dan Pileggi, the attorney for abutting property owners who oppose the resumption of quarrying, said at a planning board meeting in January that DEP permit requirements do not apply to quarries of less than one acre in size, and that there is an exemption for quarries that existed prior to 1970.
“But once there is a substantial change in plans, the exemption no longer applies,” he said, noting that the long-range plan for the quarry has been changed to cover several more acres.
Steven Salisbury, the land surveyor that MacQuinn hired to work on the quarry license application, believes that the quarry still qualifies for the MDEP permit exemption.
“Right now, we’re operating within a 1.1-acre grandfathered window,” Salisbury said. “My contention is that as long as we stay within that footprint, we’re not subject to DEP regulations. When it comes time to get a permit, we will, but that’s going to be many years down the road.”
However, Mark Stebbins, mining coordinator for the MDEP Bureau of Land & Water Quality, said in a March 20 email to Mount Desert Code Enforcement Officer Kim Keene that, based on MacQuinn’s long-range plans, “the department has determined there is a clear intent to expand the existing quarry by approximately 4.3 acres.” Therefore, Stebbins said, MacQuinn must file a Notice of Intent to Comply with MDEP rules regarding groundwater protection and other environmental standards.
On Tuesday, Salisbury sent an email to Stebbins in response to his ruling.
“It is my understanding you have consulted with the attorney general’s office (AG) regarding this matter [and] … the AG is of the opinion that there was no transfer of grandfathering from the Site Law to the present day regulation of rock quarries,” Salisbury wrote. “Because the MacQuinn quarry is already at 1.1 acres, the requirements [of the law] obligate MacQuinn to file a Notice of Intent to Comply.
“I expect to have a complete [permit] application to you within 30 days.”
Quarry opponents had argued at the planning board meeting in January that the board could not grant MacQuinn a quarrying license unless and until the company obtains an MDEP permit. The board made no decision on that, but asked MacQuinn’s attorney, Ed Bearor, to get an opinion from the MDEP as to whether a state permit is needed.
In the meantime, quarry opponents have continued to stress their primary concern, which is the amount of noise they say quarrying would generate.
A continuation of the planning board’s public hearing on MacQuinn’s application for a quarrying license is set for March 31 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room in Northeast Harbor.