As predicted in our last article, gravel operator representative Stephen Salsbury wrote a letter and made an appearance at the Board of Selectman’s meeting of 6/25/2015. In the letter and in person he made clear the gravel operators’ view that the 2013 Gravel Ordinance change of the setback distance represented a “taking” of money. While he was listened to politely, our Board members did not make any commitment to present a rollback of the setbacks to the voters. We can only assume that Salsbury will act upon his threat and initiate another lawsuit against the Town if Lamoiners vote to reject the Gravel Industry’s request to return to a 50′ setback.
Audience member and Planning Board Chairman John Holt made the point that each gravel permit has a stated time span associated with it, and without it, operators cannot mine gravel. Therefore, the “right” to mine up to a certain setback is not a feature of the property, but a feature of a three year permit.
Holt also mentioned that the 100 foot setback that the gravel operators find so onerous was a compromise between the ten foot setback favored by gravel interests and 250 feet favored by some Planning Board members.
Audience member Valerie Sprague made the additional point that persons living close to a gravel pit have to live with reduced property values and noise, and that this represents a tangible “taking” to her.
The Board of Selectmen members clearly stated that this has been an area of varied and full discussion. With Selectman Mason’s naming of the gravel companies’ approach as “threatening” in the decision-making process, it will be interesting to see if the Board leaves the rollback of setbacks on the cutting room floor.