MOUNT DESERT — Attorney Ed Bearor has maintained that his clients, Harold MacQuinn Inc. and Freshwater Stone, do not have to rebuild Crane Road in the village of Hall Quarry to meet ordinance requirements for access to the quarry that Freshwater leases from MacQuinn.
But the Planning Board disagreed with that interpretation at their meeting Oct. 20. They voted 5-0 that the companies must submit a plan for bringing the narrow dirt-and-gravel private road up to standards set out in the town’s Subdivision Ordinance or request a waiver from compliance with those standards.
At stake is the companies’ application for a license to operate the quarry.
Bearor told the board that the Quarrying Licensing Ordinance (QLO) does not require that Crane Road be brought up to current subdivision road standards.
Referring to the QLO, he told the board, “It says new driveways and access roads have to meet the standards of the subdivision ordinance. This road is not new; it has been here for decades.
“If the ordinance said we had to build a road, then we would build a road, but we don’t have do. The ordinance is clear on that.”
But Code Enforcement Officer Kim Keene, Planning Board Attorney James Collier and all five board members said the road standards in the subdivision ordinance take precedence over the QLO.
The QLO states, in part: “This ordinance shall in no way impair or remove the necessity of compliance with any other rule, regulation, bylaw, permit or provision of law.”
At the previous meeting on this issue, on May 3, the board voted to ask Bearor to submit responses to several questions including: “If no waiver is granted [for Crane Road], how exactly does the applicant intend to meet the standards of the Subdivision Ordinance?”
The board also asked for specific information regarding the right-of-way easements being sought from abutting property owners.
Board Chair Bill Hanley said at last week’s meeting that what Bearor has submitted is insufficient.
“When I look back to what we asked for, I’m not seeing all the layers of the cake here to make this compliant,” he said. “I’m scratching my head as to why we don’t have further demonstration of compliance.”
With easements recently obtained from abutting property owners, the Crane Road right of way is the required 50 feet wide. But Collier said the road itself is too narrow to pass muster.
“If you don’t have enough width of road to get to your lot, you just can’t develop it,” he said. “And if you let this go through,” he told the Planning Board, “other people all over town will want to get in on narrow roads. The road has to come up to snuff.
“Frankly, you just haven’t provided the stuff we asked you to provide,” Collier told Bearor. “So, if it was me – but it’s not my call – I would vote to deny [the quarrying license] and move on.
MacQuinn and Freshwater applied for a quarrying license in 2014, the year after voters enacted the QLO. Since then, the applicants and those who oppose the resumption of quarrying in Hall Quarry have been engaged in a fierce battle, with lawyers and engineers for both sides spending hundreds if not thousands of hours on the case.
Three lawyers representing quarry opponents attended and spoke at last week’s meeting.
Near the end of the two-hour meeting, Hanley asked Bearor, “After all you’ve invested in this, why not bring the road up to standards?”
“Because it’s both unnecessary and expensive,” Bearor responded. “We could build a road, but the ordinance doesn’t require it.”
The board voted to give Bearor and his clients 30 days to submit a detailed plan for building Crane Road to subdivision standards or to request a waiver. Then attorneys for the opponents will have 14 days to respond, and Bearor will have seven days to respond to them.
The board scheduled the next meeting on the quarry issue for Jan. 12.