South Thomaston residents file appeal hoping to block gravel pit
South Thomaston — A group listed as the "aggrieved residents of South Thomaston" filed an appeal with the town Feb. 7 opposing the Planning Board's recent approval of a gravel pit at 532 St. George Road.
Paul Neagle submitted the 21-page appeal document and numerous attached exhibits at the Town Office on behalf of the group.
Maxwell R. Young applied for a special exception to allow gravel extraction Sept. 19. The Planning Board held several meetings over the next few months in which it heard from residents who oppose the gravel pit and from Curtis Adolphsen of Union, who plans to do the actual work on the Young property. The project was approved Jan. 12.
Adolphsen stressed that this is a small project and argued that he and the property owner are not asking to do anything illegal.
Residents opposed to the gravel pit have argued it will reduce their property values, increase truck traffic, create too much noise and kick up dust that could be harmful to their health.
Adolphsen said he sees the issue as a matter of property rights and noted the region has a history of gravel and mineral mining and extraction.
"Any landowner should have a right," he said.
He added that Dragon Cement's operation is only four miles away, so if there was going to be a negative effect from being near a pit, the properties would already have seen that impact.
In the appeal, those opposed to the gravel pit argue that the Planning Board erred in its decision to approve the project. In the lengthy document, the group sets forth numerous arguments, including the assertion that the project offers no public benefit and that the drawing submitted for the project did not meet the specifications of town ordinances.
The group also argues that the Planning Board failed to approve or deny the project in a reasonable amount of time, citing that as a requirement in an issue of The Maine Townsman. They argue the five months of debate on the project was excessive.
"This occurred because the application was incomplete and the Planning Board each month attempted to get more information from Mr. Aldophsen," the document states. "Adolphsen did not volunteer the information. He claimed that he was unable to be more specific about the gravel pit operation since he has had never operated a pit before and the board member repeatedly said they knew nothing about gravel pit operations. Granting the permit without due diligence on a 'we will all learn together as we go,' constitutes extreme negligence."
The group further argues that the Planning Board misinterpreted the ordinance and was biased in favor of the applicant.
"The aggrieved residents of South Thomaston request that the Planning Board decision of January 12, 2017, be overturned. We also request that if this matter is to proceed further, it should be heard before a competent, fair and impartial Planning Board of another town, or some other relief that would result in a fair hearing."
Adolphson said the appeal is going overboard. He argued that the Planning Board had no recourse but to follow the town's ordinance.
"I'm not angry at them, but I'm disappointed in the meanness," he said.
He said he would prefer to be friends with his neighbors if at all possible.
Daniel Dunkle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 594-4401 ext. 122. Follow him on Twitter @DanDunkle.