At the December 5 Planning Board meeting it was revealed that at least two of the four pits up for renewal were not being mined and were not planned to be mined. Earlier versions of Lamoine’s Gravel Ordinance stipulated a minimum amount of gravel (200 cubic yards) which had to be removed per year, but this proved unenforceable: operators could move a few loads in and out and claim the minimum in a gravel shell game. A possible goal in obtaining a permit for an unused pit is to avoid the cost of restoration. A pit may also be unused simply because it’s unneeded, and the operator wishes to preserve inventory for the future.
As the Planning Board reviewed the application for MacQuinn’s Asher pit, they came to the “transportation” section. The chairman quipped that this was not an applicable section, since no truck traffic was expected. The permit was approved.
The economics certainly work in the pit owner’s favor. A permit for a 4-8 acre pit is $300, once every 3 years, with annual water quality tests from test wells. Restoration requires grading the slopes (sometimes bringing in material to reduce steepness), spreading topsoil and planting grass or other vegetation, and ongoing care until the vegetation thrives. Each pit has a restoration plan and the intention to restore is written into the deed, but it can be delayed indefinitely. An unused, permitted pit may restore itself over time, requiring no additional restoration costs.
Some pits, like Goodwin’s East Lamoine pit, are now bringing in loads of used concrete and asphalt pavement and reprocessing them in their crusher. In other words, the pit can continue crushing operations without gravel extraction if they so choose. Audience members voiced their displeasure with the noise, truck traffic and road spillage, and expressed outrage that an industrial activity can take place unrelated to what they believe to be the purpose of the permit.
Pits which see little commercial activity can become a nuisance, as audience member Steven Callahan testified. His property borders Goodwin’s Davis pit, which has become an informal shooting range every weekend. Spent shell casings litter the floor, and unsafe lead levels may be in the gravel from the bullets embedded in the slopes. Others mentioned ATV traffic and trash dumping. Apparently, land which looks abandoned and barren is poorly treated by the public.
Nomination papers for the following elected municipal offices are now available at the Lamoine Town Office:
· Selectman & Overseer of the Poor (1 seats, 3-year term)
· Board of Assessors Member (1 seat, 3-year term)
· School Committee Member (2 seat, 3-year terms)
To be placed on the ballot for March 7, 2017, candidates must gather the signatures of at least 25 registered voters and no more than 75 registered voters. Nomination petitions must be submitted to the Lamoine Town Clerk’s office no later than the close of business on January 23, 2017.