Letter to the editor: Quarry concerns

To the Editor:

In response to the Viewpoint piece by Jeff Gammelin in last week’s Islander, I applaud Mr. Gammelin for being a good employer.

Freshwater Stone has managed to stay in business and provide good jobs and benefits for more than 43 years without cutting stone from the bedrock in Hall Quarry until 2010.

He even manages to do this with a Stop Work Order in effect since 2016 at the unlicensed quarry in Hall Quarry that he leases.

This past week Freshwater Stone had an ad in the Islander for job openings. It doesn’t seem that Mr. Gammelin needs to be cutting rock in Hall Quarry to keep his business going strong.

We built our home in Hall Quarry in 1990 and enjoyed peace and quiet for 20 years. People have asked why Hall Quarry residents purchased land and houses near a quarry. The answer is that there was no active or existing quarry. This quarry lot was dormant since the 1970s.

Our neighborhood, including the quarry, is zoned “Residential.”

We were all told, correctly, that it was not a working quarry.

Who in their right mind would buy or build a home next to an industrial quarry? Certainly none of us.

No quarry should be opened today anywhere in Maine in the middle of a residential zone. From my understanding, prior to when Freshwater Stone started cutting stone in 2010, the last time granite was cut from the bedrock in Hall Quarry was in the 1970s. Mr. Gammelin and the property owner first applied for a license claiming to be “grandfathered” in.

The Planning Board found this quarry had not removed rock from the bedrock for decades and the right to submit an application was denied. This decision was upheld by the Zoning Board of Appeals of Mount Desert.

A Portland judge decided that Freshwater Stone and the MacQuinn Company had the right to apply on a technicality. The Freshwater operation did not “exist” until 2010 when they began cutting rock. They were definitely not “grandfathered” according to the LUZO and they only “existed” because the Town of Mount Desert did not stop them for several years.

Finally in 2016 the Code Enforcement Officer of Mount Desert issued a Stop Work Order. To be a “good neighbor,” as Mr. Gammelin claims to be, one has to be considerate of those who surround you.

Notifying your abutting neighbors that you are opening up an industrial quarry 250 feet from their home would be a start. Mr. Gammelin did not contact us. Subjecting us five days a week, but offering not to operate in July and August, to earsplitting noise and discharges so powerful from pneumatic drills they could be felt on my chest while on my deck is not being a “good neighbor.”

Subjecting an entire neighborhood to incredibly loud noise, potential pollution and depletion of wellwater, air pollution, health issues and depreciation of property values is not being a “good neighbor.”

Mr. Gammelin states he has invested in state-of-the-art sound suppression technology, but we have no first hand experience with it since he has not used it yet to operate and only performed his own sound testing with it on one occasion.

I will disagree with Mr. Gammelin that the quarry in Hall Quarry is the island’s only operating granite quarry. The quarry is not operating. It has never been licensed. It is a potentially operating quarry if granted a license under the Quarry Licensing Ordinance.

The two paragraphs Mr. Gammelin devoted to romanticizing the pink granite to a heavenly rock worthy of worship is a bit much. It’s a rock, a pink granite rock that can be found elsewhere, as the records from Mr. MacQuinn and Mr. Gammelin have shown in the past.

There are other sources for the coping stones used in Acadia National Park. Mr. Gammelin is appealing to the readers’ sense of history and concern for the plight of American manufacturing. Cutting granite in Hall Quarry inside the center of a residential village is easy for Mr. Gammelin. The granite is close and easy to get to.

However, in addition to taking this easy granite out of our residential village, the company will harm the quality of life of the residents and lower our property values.

Who will then want to purchase our houses when we are forced to put them up for sale because an industrial quarry has moved in?

I hope the readers can identify with the plight of the residents of Hall Quarry.

Judy Aylen, Hall Quarry

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