Planning Board Hears From Water Sampling Expert

The application for the Keene pit was reviewed by the Planning Board. Under the current gravel ordinance, Keene is required to maintain a 100′ buffer. Keene does not have a waiver from his current neighbor who owns the abutting property. Keene was under the impression that the Planning Board had the authority to grant this waiver; however Chrm. Holt explained that the Planning Board must follow the current ordinance and can’t waive performance standards in the gravel ordinance. Keene was also advised that the restoration plan for his pit must be completed to the boundary of the 100′ setback within the next three years or life of his gravel permit. The requirement for water quality data from the now-existing wells in the Keene pit was waived by the Planning Board because they are on ledge and groundwater can’t be obtained at the site. The Planning Board will grant Keene’s permit when he files a map with his application showing the 100′ setback and provides a statement that restoration will be completed within three years.

quote5At its prior meeting the Planning Board had concerns that three permits that were required to provide water quality data from drilled wells did not meet the required industry standards for obtaining accurate water quality data. Michael Deyling from CES Inc. (former Summit Engineering) was the water quality expert representing the wells in question. He provided a detailed report that demonstrated how with current standards and methods for water quality sampling, the three wells in question could be used to provide accurate data. He also stated that these wells could be modified to bring them up to current standards. Deyling stated that of key importance was stable parameters and using a professional engineer to take samples. The Planning Board found this information very helpful and said they would be using it in their upcoming gravel ordinance workshop on Sept. 17th.

quote4Of great concern to the Planning Board was that the CEO had gone ahead and approved the three wells in question. As these were conditions required for getting permits, or Administration application issues which is under the purview of the Planning Board rather than Performance issues required in operation under the gravel permit, the Planning Board told the CEO that he had gone beyond his authority. (See Chrm, Holt’s statement) The CEO stated that in his opinion he had the power to make these decisions.

Kathryn Gaianguest addressed the Planning Board, representing the citizens of Lamoine, saying that the CEO and Steve Salisbury (representative for the gravel operators) should be taking their concerns directly to the Planning Board rather making complaints to the Board of Selectmen as this was a waste of time and energy for everyone and counterproductive.

Steve Salisbury made a request to the Planning Board to amend the Consent Agreements that had been signed by the Board of Selectmen and the gravel operators, with no input from the Planning Board. Salisbury stated that they wanted to present a water quality testing plan to the Planning Board. Chrm. Holt said that they had not been included in any part of the Consent Agreements and that the Board of Selectmen would have to be consulted with regard to this matter.

MacQuinn, Goodwin Want to Amend Consent Agreements

The Lamoine Planning Board is preparing to hear arguments from gravel operators that their temporary agreements should be altered.

On Tuesday evening, September 2, 2014 at 6:30 PM at the Lamoine Town Hall, gravel companies MacQuinn and Goodwin will send their representatives to plead their case for why changes should be made to their Consent Agreements. These agreements were signed as a way to give the two gravel operators more time to comply with the 2013 Lamoine Gravel Ordinance. The main feature of these agreements concerned the drilling of wells and the collection of water samples for testing. Therefore it is likely that these will be the subjects of the proposed amendments. The relevant tax maps showing the location of pits are attached. The four maps below are taken from Lamoine tax maps 1, 3, 9 and 20 respectively. The index to these maps is here.

The agenda for Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting can be viewed here. Attending the session or watching on Cable will give us a clearer understanding of the procedures followed in Town by the gravel operators and our Planning Board.

Map1Lot75Goodwin Map3Lots31,33.MacQuinn Map9Lot13.MacQuinn Map20Lot12.MacQuinn

13 Aug, 2014: PB Rejects Water Data from MacQuinn

The Lamoine Planning Board met at the Lamoine school and once again faced the permitting issue for several MacQuinn gravel pits.

JordanPBChairman John Holt noted that the tests showed no problems with water quality but he also voiced displeasure at where the samples were obtained. He repeated the town’s demand for the drilling of new wells and considered the plastic pipes in the ground used to obtain samples as “open top rain gauges” of insufficient depth. Code Enforcement Officer Mike Jordan stated that the collection of samples was in the presence of geologists employed by MacQuinn and as such met with his approval. He would not issue a violation. Holt continued to maintain that these pipes were not wells and that the agreements stipulated that wells would be drilled. Jordan responded with, “Who are you to tell a geologist what is right and wrong?” Holt vowed to never again issue a conditional permit.

Chairman Holt noted that he was named in a lawsuit by the gravel companies and expressed a desire that the town provide better legal representation.

Chairman Holt proposed a workshop for 16 September at 6:30 PM for the purpose of formulating the Planning Board’s version of a re-worked gravel ordinance. His ideas for reform included greater specificity in defining water monitoring wells and collection, distinguishing between large and small pits by defining usage levels rather than size and streamlining the permitting process.

 

7 Aug, 2014 Selectmen Meeting: Reduce Setback, Increase Restoration

At the special meeting of the Board of Selectmen meeting of August 7, 2014, members held a wide ranging discussion about how they should change our gravel ordinance to integrate the final report of the Gravel Work Group.

SBpic

BernieWellThe meeting started with instructions to the audience that vocal comments were barred, but written comments were allowed. After members signed approval for the new traffic light at the intersection of Rt. 204 and Rt. 3, Jo Cooper got the ball rolling with asking what the goals were and why changes to the ordinance were needed at all. She recommended caution. Other members voiced displeasure with the current ordinance: renewal of permits was too complicated, small pit owners suffered from setback increases from 50 to 100 feet and monitoring wells were, according to Bernie Johnson, redundant. JoBarnHe believed they could yield results which would create a nightmare for pit owners since pinpointing a pollution source would be difficult. On the aquifer issue, Bernie was under the impression that water flowed through the aquifer from one end of Lamoine

HWBornsJr

Harold Borns, from http://climatechange.umaine.edu

to the other, and so could be monitored with two wells. This is incorrect according to a letter written by UMaine geologist Harold Borns.  We have requested his permission to post the entire letter on this web site for all to access.  Selectman Johnson went on to state, “if these guys have got some test wells and nothing’s happened in the last 100 years it isn’t a guarantee, but…”. Jo Cooper responded, “There’s an issue with water. That it’s a resource that…you can’t close the barn door after it’s gone”. It is unclear if the Board will consider changes to the water monitoring provisions of the ordinance at a later date.

Town manager Stu Marckoon took some time to reflect on the negative aspects of gravel mining in Lamoine: unrestored “moonscapes”, noise and dust and uncertain water quality impacts. As the evening progressed, all members agreed that restoration of pits was a huge problem and one which any change to the ordinance should address. Still, all seemed stuck on reducing the setback to abutters to fifty feet from the current 100 feet. Stu wanted to use the reduction as an incentive to encourage restoration but Nate Mason thought this unworkable and thought the 50 foot rollback should happen regardless, and restoration should be a requirement for permit renewal.

HeatherNoiseNoise was briefly discussed as an ordinance issue, but not considered as something which should be changed. Bernie Johnson thought it only affected retirees, since most people left home for work, but Jo reminded him that people with health issues could be impacted by the noise of gravel crushers. The topic got back to restoration when Gary McFarland mentioned that restoration could include “noise deadening shrubs” which absorb the sound of the crushers. Heather Fowler complained that gravel operations are subject to special noise rules which don’t apply to others. She later recused herself from discussion about setback changes, since her family is in the gravel business.

StumantraThe meeting’s final outcome was that the setback should be reduced back to fifty feet but that if this was a carrot, the stick would be restoration. surprisingly, every member echoed Jo Cooper’s sentiment that “nothing ever happens, restoration never happens”. Bernie Johnson saw the setback reduction as, “putting some money back in someone’s pocket” available for pit reclamation. Members instructed Stu to craft a change to the ordinance, using restoration as a requirement for permit renewal. Stu suggested the mantra, “no restoration is not an option”.

natelifelessA brief discussion on what constituted restoration followed. Code Enforcement Officer Mike Jordan offered his definition. His inspections require four inches of topsoil and grass growth, the purpose of which was primarily erosion control. Nate Mason mentioned that he’s seen lifeless gravel areas 30 years old, and that topsoil is the key. All agreed that once the grass appeared, trees would follow. Also, all agreed that the “performance guarantee” should be removed. This is the small fund created to restore pits if the owners abandon them. It was felt that if restoration was ongoing, it would not be necessary.

 

 

 

Lamoine.Org Goes Live!

From the Friends of Lamoine: After several months of preparation and research, our website is finally launched!

Our intent is to help the people of Lamoine, Maine, and those who love Lamoine but live elsewhere, to stay in touch with the issues important to our future. Lamoine.Org is the website of Friends of Lamoine. Please look around the site and let us know what you think. This is a very exciting day for us and we hope it is for you too.