A quarry neighbor’s perspective

By Judy Aylen

The first time I laid eyes on Jeff Gammelin was at a meeting with town officials. Gammelin had commenced quarrying operations in Hall Quarry by that time. Someone had to point him out to me as I had never met the man.

At that meeting, Gammelin stated that he had met with neighbors before he leased the site to inform them of his intent to quarry. During a short break as Gammelin was walking toward me in the hallway, I offered my handshake and said “I am Judy Aylen. My property abuts the quarry, and I am one of the people you supposedly spoke to.” Gammelin said I must not have been home when he and his wife walked around the neighborhood.

I told Gammelin if he wanted to talk, I would be happy to meet with him. A few days later, we met for coffee at Sips in Southwest Harbor. He told me we shouldn’t get lawyers involved as it can get quite expensive. But he and landowner Paul MacQuinn were already lawyered up.

What he offered me as a solution to the noise was that if I was having a party or gathering, he would not quarry that day.

Neither the Shencavitzes nor my husband and I (the closest abutters to the quarrying site) were contacted before Gammelin leased the quarry and started operating without a permit in 2010. Gerry Shencavitz did not hire an attorney until May 2012, so Gammelin could not have received a letter charging harassment before he leased the quarry, as he implied in the Islander.

Fast forward four years and umpteen Planning Board meetings to Gammelin’s Guest Column in last week’s Islander titled “Trying to work with the neighbors.” He stated he is “willing to meet with anyone to discuss opportunities to cooperate and coexist.” Does coexisting include trying to have me arrested when I took photos of Freshwater employees jack hammering on Sept, 25, 2015? Perhaps they did not “quarry a single block of stone,” but they certainly were jack hammering that day and other days in 2015.

Around our neighborhood, we call it the hit-and-run method of quarrying. Gammelin tries to discredit us by listing health and well-being issues brought up at a recent Planning Board meeting. These concerns were in general and referred to 2014 and before, not 2015.

This was clarified at that meeting.

We are all well aware of when there is or isn’t activity at the quarry, and there was some in 2015. The truth is that people do suffer physically and mentally from constant noise levels in the range that an industrial quarry produces. There are young children, elderly parents, retirees and working families in our community. Some of us have been adversely affected by this operation. Our homes – for some our lifetime investments – have been devalued, our lives disrupted. And we are being called selfish?

Gammelin “worked closely” with the DEP when they required him to fill in a trench he had dug to shift quarry runoff into the “sensitive” wetlands. He also reduced the size of the quarry footprint to one acre, thereby avoiding DEP regulations for noise and setbacks.

These issues remain for residents in our neighborhood. If you believe that the noise levels show “virtually no difference” when operating full tilt at the present extraction site or not operating, I have a mythological bridge I’d like to sell you. I’d invite anyone to sit on my deck and hear for themselves. Thankfully a stop -ork order was finally issued in September for the time being.

Not a person in our neighborhood with whom I’ve spoken has said that they are not bothered by our quarrying activities, as Gammelin claims. The only people I can think of that would not be bothered are those with a vested interest. Gammelin certainly would be bothered if this were in his backyard.

Judy Aylen is a resident of Hall Quarry in Mount Desert.

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