The Planning Board will decide next whether the application for a gravel pit on St. George Road is complete after receiving more information from the developer via email, according to documents on file with town officials.

The next meeting of the Planning Board on this issue is Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Town Office. The meeting will be open to the public, but will not be a public hearing where members of the public are allowed to ask questions and make comments.

Maxwell R. Young filed an application with the town Sept. 19 to extract gravel products from an existing pit at 532 St. George Road in the rural residential zone. See photos for entire application document.

The application includes a "not to scale" drawing of the property showing Route 131, the location of the proposed pit, the location of a house, air strip and "cars" on the property. The application also notes that Maine Department of Transportation review and Maine Department of Environmental Protection review are required.

Curtis Adolphsen of Union plans to do the actual work of extracting the gravel at the site. He has represented the project at Planning Board meetings since September.

Dec. 5, Code Enforcement Officer John Snow sent an email to Adolphsen and members of the Planning Board requesting more information about the project.

"Per our phone conversation, it is imperative that, as Max Young's agent, you make some sort of declaration about your plans for the operation of the pit before this application will be deemed complete," Snow wrote. "Basically, the idea is that you must answer the board's questions with specific answers. This request is not made to hamstring your operation. It is made so that the board has a document from you that they can respond to with particular conditions, instead of the board having to create something out of thin air."

Snow asked Adolphsen to address:

– Days and hours of operation

– Length of work season

– Size of active pit area

– Need for crushing

– Blasting

– Containment of dust

– Equipment needed

– Number of trucks

– Materials to be extracted (gravel, sand and loam)

– Acknowledgment of requirement to adhere to all state regulations

"…The main point is that by this submission you will have satisfied the board's request for information, an important step in getting the application to be deemed complete," Snow concluded.

The Courier-Gazette requested a copy of Adolphsen's Dec. 7 response to this email. In his response, he addressed the questions in order:

1) Days and hours of operation: "Mon-Fri 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Sat 8 a.m. – 12 noon"

2) Length of work season: "Year-round as weather and conditions allow"

3) Size of active pit area: "Under 5 acres, not visible from road"

4) Need for crushing: "30 days per year as needed (probably not all at once)"

5) Blasting: "At this time there is no known need for blasting"

6) Containment of dust: "Water, non-silt surface on road, and not screening in high winds"

7) Equipment needed: "To include but not limited to, wheel loader, excavator, dump truck, screener, conveyor, water pumps, dozer, grader, on-site repair tools, scalper, personal pickups, stump grinders, skidder, crusher"

8) Number of trucks: "Not to exceed 25 per day"

9) Materials to be extracted: "sand, gravel, loam, erosion mix, loose rocks, clay fill, wood products"

10) Acknowledgement of requirement to adhere to state regulations: "All state regulations will be adhered to as agreed upon in contract with the land owner under #7 and #8 of contract."

"In addition to these, a staging area will be necessary to pile processed material somewhere outside the actual pit area at least while the pit is small, maybe where salvage cars are since they will be gone (if approved by owner), and a place to put stumps to be recycled into erosion mix and loam, none of which will be visible from the road and will be properly protected from erosion and water table," Adolphsen wrote in the email.

"Although the pit itself won't be visible from the road, it may be prudent to park loaders, or trucks in a place that can be seen by the house or the road as a deterrent to vandalism," he said.

"Thank you for mentioning that these are not meant to hamstring the operation," he said. "Although I have worked in and around pits, I have never operated one and I may not have thought of everything. I think these requests are very reasonable and not at all unusual as pits go."

The gravel pit already exists on the property, according to the application, and has been used in the past. Snow said the Town Office does not have records of the previous use of the gravel pit. He said there is no old permit for the pit because it predates the town's ordinances. He also argued that the information would be irrelevant, since it is not trying to be "grandfathered."

The town has received about 20 letters from residents concerning the gravel pit, most of them raising concerns about the project. Residents have stated they are concerned about the potential for property values to decline, increases in noise and truck traffic and dust. Some of the residents note that they are elderly or in poor health and are concerned the dust from the pit could further damage their health. Others raised concerns about the environment, including a bird sanctuary on the 'Keag. In some of the letters citizens also thanked the volunteers on the Planning Board for their work for the town.

William and Sandra Atwood of South Thomaston are neighbors of the proposed gravel pit, and they have hired attorney Patrick Mellor of Strout & Payson to represent their interests. On Oct. 3 he sent a letter to the Planning Board urging the board to require additional conditions for the project, which needs a special exception permit. He notes the town lacks a true ordinance to govern mineral extraction activities, but he said it is important that the board impose conditions to protect the public interest.

The board could limit the permit to specify the type of mining activity, hours of operation, number of truck trips per day, list equipment to be permitted and make requirements to protect groundwater and deal with dust and air pollution. Mellor also listed reclamation plan and financial capacity as items the board could require.

Courier Publications News Director Daniel Dunkle can be reached at ddunkle@villagesoup.com or 594-4401 ext. 122.