This appeared in the October 7 edition of the The Ellsworth American. We feature it here because it was written by our member Carol Korty. Please purchase your own copy of the paper and support local newspapers!
October 5, 2015
“Gravel Pit Solution Proposed in Lamoine” was the title of an article in this paper’s October 1st edition. It refers to a new gravel ordinance created by Lamoine’s Board of Selectmen up for vote on November 3rd. Because I was quoted as being opposed to this document, I want to explain my position.
The proposed ordinance is not a “solution” to the contentious issue of the gravel industry’s operations in Lamoine. The resolution it proposes is for residents to accept conditions advocated by gravel operators through their attorney and surveyor. It would reverse regulations passed by a substantial majority of registered voters these past two years to keep the industry from expanding in our town.
Who gets to decide how Lamoine’s resources are to be used? Residents or an industry primarily from outside? Lamoine has many rich resources in addition to gravel: forests, marine life, wildlife, a bountiful aquifer, a beautiful natural environment, land suitable for homes, farms, and recreation. Lamoiners have voted to protect these resources by placing tighter restrictions on gravel extraction because it negatively affects these other resources and our property values. Residents voted to protect the place they live from the noise, dust and relentless truck traffic of open pit mining.
The Town receives no financial benefit from this industry and is left with acres no longer suitable for housing, small businesses, tree growth or agriculture, all of which could generate income. The minimally reclaimed pits are not even attractive for wildlife or recreation.
It pains me to respond negatively to a proposal that involved months of work. But the process by which it came about pains me even more. Representatives of the gravel industry were frequently consulted. But, despite claims otherwise, residents were not invited to ask questions nor provided with a public hearing where suggestions for revisions could be considered.
While there are some useful changes in the proposed ordinance, these can be adopted in a future document. My hope is that registered voters will realize this proposed ordinance negates their earlier decisions to shape the Town’s development and the quality of life here.
Carol Korty, Lamoine