The Planning Board voted unanimously to approve Maxwell R. Young's application for a gravel pit operation at 532 St. George Road at its Jan. 12 meeting, but only after imposing restrictions on the hours of operation, number of truckloads and noise levels experienced by neighbors.

Vice Chairman Jeff Northgraves reiterated at this meeting that as long as the project meets the conditions required in the ordinance, it is an allowed use that the board must approve. He said the board's hands were tied.

In the course of meetings on this project going back to September, neighbors of the property have complained the project would decrease the value of their properties and raise dust that could hurt their health.

The Planning Board placed a number of conditions on the project, including:

– The gravel pit operation must not be visible from Route 131 and must be screened from neighbors' view.

– It must be set back at least 50 feet from property lines and 150 feet from the foundations of existing dwellings.

– It must be no deeper than five feet above the water table, and the owner or agent is required to dig a test pit or well to determine that.

– Any blasting at the pit would be considered an increase in the scope of the project and it would have to go back to the Planning Board for approval.

– Staffing is limited to three employees, or the scope is increased.

– Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; daylight only; 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays; no operation on federal holidays.

– Glare from lights is to be controlled so that it does not adversely affect neighbors. Motion-detector-activated lights will be allowed for safety and security purposes.

– Noise heard at the neighboring property line is limited to 65 decibels. The owner or agent is responsible for providing the town with sound-measuring equipment to enforce this.

– Dust and dirt are to be controlled and contained on the property.

– Rock-crushing operations are to take place no more than three times per year, no more than 21 days total.

– Truck loads are limited to 20 per day and log books of the trips must be maintained.

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 was for the most part agreeable to the conditions, although he voiced concerns about not being able to have vehicles visible from the road for security reasons. He did not want vandals who might get onto the property via snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles to tamper with the vehicles. The Planning Board determined that vehicles should not be visible, except as needed for safety and security, same as with lights and signs on the property.

Adolphsen also was concerned about the noise limit. Northgraves said that was the standard noise limit used in many places and that over 65 decibels is widely considered the definition of nuisance noise.

The Planning Board voted on findings of fact and found that the project would not negatively affect neighboring property values. Northgraves said Dragon Cement and other mining operations are already near the area. He also argued that studies cited by neighbors opposed to the pit were from out of state and did not note the size of the gravel pit operations that had brought down property values.

Some neighbors voiced disapproval at the meeting.

Chairwoman Eileen Skarka said she had been shocked by how rude "our neighbors" had been.

Daniel Dunkle can be reached at ddunkle@villagesoup.com or 594-4401 ext. 122. Follow him on Twitter @DanDunkle.