Letter to the Editor: Quarry quagmire

To the Editor: 

The machinations of the Planning Board regarding quarry operations during the meeting in March were painful to watch. Billed as a public hearing, the town attorney claimed the meeting was supposed to be a deliberation of the board members. Though notice of a public meeting was in this paper and on the town’s own agenda that evening, neither members of the board nor the attorney felt the responsibility to correct that error ahead of time. So the residents of Hall Quarry sat and listened once more to the back and forth of the board members and the attorney.  

A sound expert who volunteered his time and expertise to the board confirmed the fact that the neighborhood is quiet and registers about 35 decibels on a normal day. He cautioned that any berm or sound barrier would provide some buffering from the noise of the quarry’s operations but would not approach the 35-decibel level.  

This information prompted a variety of suggestions for sound mitigation from the board. Could the tracks on excavation equipment be rubber rather than metal? Would sound barriers such as those seen on highways keep sound at residential levels? Could the machinery and vehicles used be electric rather than gas powered to reduce noise? The quarry owner stated that these solutions were not viable or likely to be implemented in standard quarrying operations.  

The board members and the attorney again bemoaned their lack of expertise. The minutes are not yet available, but by recollection, they attested to their limited knowledge of decibel ranges for the extraction machines and vehicles no less than a half dozen times. The decibel range for a compressed air diamond saw listed in the quarry’s inventory of tools came in at 122 decibels in a Google search. The information is there for anyone to find, including board members. After all, the Planning Board has been deliberating this very license for close to a decade. 

Over the years, mountains of evidence and expert testimony have been produced and submitted to the board by Hall Quarry residents which reasonably call the grandfathering clause into question and show that a quarry operation is not suitable for licensure in a residentially zoned neighborhood. Yet the board continues to twist itself into knots to find a way, some desperate way, to justify an approval. Why? Everyone can just leave Hall Quarry in 35 decibel peace. 

Marianne Buchala 

Mount Desert 


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