To the Editor:
On May 3, the Mount Desert Planning Board intends to vote on the proposed quarry in Hall Quarry. The public may attend in parked cars.
This a new industrial quarry, in a quiet neighborhood, on land zoned residential, with ear-splitting noise, dust and heavy trucks using a narrow residential road. The value of the homes of abutters and neighbors will decline significantly. The noise carries across Somes Sound and into Acadia National Park.
A proposed project usually claims to bring benefits—jobs, more local business, increased tax base. In this case, there seems to be no benefit to the town or its citizens.
At a special town meeting on July 25, 2013, participants voted to ban new quarries in Mount Desert. A quarry licensing ordinance also was adopted, by voice vote. Selectmen told the town meeting attendees that the ordinance would apply only to quarries that were “grandfathered” — had been in continuous operation. The Warrant Committee (I was a member) approved its consideration only on that understanding.
At the quarry site, no activity other than removal of a few loose stones had taken place for many decades, so the Planning Board eventually voted 4-1 to deny the application. Then the applicant’s argument changed – the Quarry Licensing Ordinance meant the new quarry did not have to be “grandfathered” at all. In 2018, a business court judge apparently agreed, overturning the Planning Board, the Board of Appeals and the expressed will and understanding of the voters at the town meeting. The town did not appeal.
Planning Board procedure has been irregular. At first, on the advice of the town attorney, only the applicant and the lawyer for two abutters were allowed to speak, while other abutters, neighbors and the public were silenced. This March, the town attorney revealed that he had been negotiating with the applicant for more than a year to “work out” a problem in the application but had decided not to inform the Planning Board.
I don’t fault Mr. MacQuinn and Freshwater Stone for trying to make a buck. That’s business. I do care about town government. The town’s job is to look out for its citizens — my friends and neighbors — and their welfare, including property values and the environment and benefit to the community.
The Planning Board should reject this application.