The Planning Board voted unanimously Dec. 15 to find the application for a gravel pit on St. George Road complete and plans to issue findings of fact and take a final vote on the project Jan. 12.

The vote came after neighbors of the property at 532 St. George Road again criticized the project, saying it would decrease the value of their properties and would kick up dust that could hurt their health.

Maxwell R. Young filed the application to extract gravel from the property Sept. 19 and Curtis Adolphsen of Union plans to do the work there. Young is the executor of the trust involved in the project, and other family members live on the property in question.

Adolphsen has requested to work the pit six days per week, year-round, with up to 25 truck trips per day. He has told the Planning Board in an email he would control dust using water and would not do screening in high wind conditions. The pit would be less than 5 acres. He is also asking that rock-crushing be allowed 30 days per year as needed, adding that this probably would not be done all at once.

Chairwoman Eileen Skarka asked if the board could require that the crushing not be done all at once to avoid a month-long crushing operation.

Vice Chairman Jeff Northgraves said as long as the project meets the conditions required in the ordinance, it is an allowed use that the board must approve. It was also noted that the board may impose conditions on the operation, including limiting the number of truckloads and the hours of operation.

Northgraves said it would be illegal for the town to create an ordinance prohibiting gravel pits in the town.

He said the three industries that made this area what it is are granite and gravel extraction, forestry and fishing. He said that is the reason so many locations in the Midcoast have names like Rockland, Rockport, Quarry Hill and so on. He added that the town is a stone's throw away from the biggest mining operation in the state, Dragon Cement.

In addition, the vice chairman said that under state law, the town does not have the authority to create a moratorium on blasting. This met with complaints from neighbors present at the meeting, but he also said the applicant would have to come back to the Planning Board if he were going to do any blasting, because that is outside the scope of the project currently before the board.

William Atwood, a neighbor to the property, said he was concerned about losing the value of his property.

Another resident asked, "What was the purpose of all of these meetings if it was a foregone conclusion?"

Northgraves repeated that the board could still add conditions to the project. He also said the town could require that dust remain on the property.

It was noted at the meeting that if the project is approved, residents have 30 days to file disagreement with that decision in writing to the town Board of Appeals.

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