Rockland holds off again on sale of quarry

By Stephen Betts | Apr 10, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts The sale of the city-owned Rockland Engine Quarry is on the City Council's agenda for Monday, April 9.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council again waded into the quagmire that is the massive city-owned former limestone quarry off Old County Road.

The council voted 4-1 Monday night, April 9, to postpone preliminary approval on an ordinance to sell the city's interest in the 14-acre parcel known as the "Engine Quarry" to Jake Barbour. The issue will come up again May 14.

The council rejected July 10 on a 2-2 vote a proposal to sell the water-filled quarry to Barbour. That rejection came in light of requests from other parties to purchase the quarry.

Councilor Adam Ackor sponsored the proposed sale and voted against postponing the vote.

The city has owned the property since 1982, when Maine Drilling & Blasting Inc. failed to pay its property taxes. Maine Drilling had acquired the land in 1981 from the Rockland-Rockport Lime Co. Inc.

The city has solicited proposals for the land on multiple occasions since 2014, but has never followed through on a sale.

Barbour has offered a 0.64-acre parcel he owns adjacent to the city landfill -- which is assessed by the city at $4,500 -- as well as a long, narrow 2-acre parcel off Rankin Street for a walking trail that is planned to stretch from the former MacDougal School property to city-owned land on Old County Road. That second parcel is assessed by the city at $5,200.

Barbour has stated on multiple occasions that he has as much legal claim to Engine Quarry as the city because his mother acquired mineral rights to the quarry many years ago.

He has said if the city sells its interest to someone else, he may have to take legal action to acquire title to the land.

Barbour pointed out that the property he has offered to the city -- adjacent to the landfill -- has been used by the city during the past few winters for snow dumping.

Barbour was at Monday night's meeting but did not speak. He has declined to reveal his plans for the property.

Other people interested in the property have been Owen and Cathleen Dorr, who live adjacent to the quarry; and Frederick Dodd of Sherborn, Mass. Cathy Dorr spoke at Monday night's meeting and voiced support for Dodd's proposal for the quarry.

Dodd operates a business known as International Zoological Expeditions Inc. and has said he would stop illegal dumping, clean out the quarry, and make it available for those who wish to study a different and unique self-contained ecosystem.

Dodd has offered the city $20,000 for the property.

Dodd spoke Monday night and said he still wants to buy the quarry and preserve what he said is one of the most beautiful quarries in the city. He said people will be able to kayak in the quarry and adjacent streams under his proposal.

At the July 2017 meeting, Ackor and Mayor Will Clayton voted to sell the city's interest in the property to Barbour, while Councilors Ed Glaser and Amelia Magjik voted against the sale.

Comments (12)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 09, 2018 16:00

Most likely the city council will make their decision without the expertise of a competent attorney in this field of mineral rights and the transfer/selling/trading/giving away this land in question. A compete title search should be done and a complete survey with all the cards on the table, but, no, no, no. lets take care of this quick and easy and give it away, even if there might just be some value. Shoot from the hip city council will only do the right thing (as they see fit).

Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Apr 09, 2018 13:14

The mineral rights issue is the "sticky wicket".  I believe Engine Quarry mineral rights were part of a $100 sale by the Rockland-Rockport Lime Company, not that it matters. If owning those rights to the minerals gives Mr. Barbour no right to the land unless mining ensues, then the issue is that the City is being forced to sell Engine Quarry to Mr. Barbour because they dumped snow on his land. I would like to assume the city had an agreement to dump snow on that land.  The Parks Commission would like an easement over another parcel owned by Mr. Barbour.  Is that also being held hostage depending on who gets to purchase Engine Quarry!  Mr. Dodd has offered more money and will spend even more, which leaves one to believe he must have done a lot of exploration in the quarry and of the surrounding land to come up with his plan. He has a track record for ecological clean up and restoration. He states he intends to haul all the debris out of the quarry!  He has come to the city in good faith and put forth a plan that will restore the property to a healthy environment and for the use of residents of the area at presumably a great deal of cost to him.  His project should create jobs.  Not a Native of Rockland, but a newcomer, he wants to invest his time and money in improving a parcel of land that is in need of clean-up and he has the intention and the knowledge.  His plan sounds like a gift to the area that Rockland  could appreciate in years to come.  No matter who owns the land, his the Mother has only the mineral rights as this reads.  This issue of mineral rights on land in the area comes up repeatedly.  Certainly there is a law that pertains to this issue that can guide the city in their decision process.

Posted by: Marian Robinson | Apr 09, 2018 08:39

Many years ago, Jake Barbour's mother, Susan Barbour, purchased at auction from the then-owners of the cement plant the mineral rights to a certain area of land in which the cement plant had no further mineral interest, presumably because they had quarried all they intended to quarry and all that was economically advantageous to quarry.  Exercising those mineral rights would involve access to the minerals, machinery, manpower, and a market for the product that would make it all worthwhile.  What's the current market for limestone?

Posted by: Barry Douglas Morse | Apr 09, 2018 07:49

If Barbour has a right to mine the land, presumably he has an active lease or deed.  And if he has such, he can presumably mine right now.

Mining rights are not land ownership rights.  Add best they are an easement.  A title search, which is necessary prior to sale, would clear that up quickly.


From the Maine Department of Agriculture website:

"Ordinarily, a Maine landowner owns the land from the surface on down, unless the mineral rights have been intentionally separated from the surface ownership by legal agreement. Someone interested in mineral exploration would expect to execute a lease agreement with the landowner or the owner of the mineral rights before beginning exploration activity, in case anything of value should be discovered."

The only claim Barbour says he has is the right to mine.  Since he's not doing that now, I'm thinking he has other plans if he gains ownership.

Obviously it is in the people of Rockland's best interest to know the probable use before sale.  Even better would be to zone the property for a specific use prior to sale.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 07, 2018 17:27

Frances: Being greedy is a concern but I always thought the purpose of Wink's was to reuse, re-purpose, reclaim, rebuilt, and so on those items that were of no longer any use to some. I would say those that are greedy, since you did not fully explain, are the ones that have no "right" to be there. If you knew the items I and many more collect, repair, and give away you might be surprised. Please remember that in order to use Wink's there is no explanation needed as to what is done with the items and if only you want to clearly identify the "needy" go ahead but I can guarantee that a lot of less than needy folks frequent  Wink's and find it a "social event" while "shopping". I do not believe Wink would separate the needy from the non-needy in order to enjoy a little "picking". The more important fact as who is the intended participant?

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Apr 07, 2018 09:49

When David Wink started "Wink's Place" his purpose was to help the needy not the greedy. It is really sad that people have to ruin a good cause to profit for themselves. As for the Engine Quarry I would want to know Barbour's plan as it no doubt is for financial gain.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 07, 2018 08:53

Being a frequent flyer to the "Wink's Place" and a more frequent critic of the management of Mt. Demo and the surrounding so called "Landfill/Dump" I find with a roaring sense of humor the recent development whereas the crusher has been present to munch and crunch the Mt Brush and overwhelming collection of pallets theretofore. When in the process, and due to my concern about the ineligible participants into "Wink's Place" it has been the direct order of the dump fathers to pile the ground up remains of the aforementioned Mt. Brush pile and overwhelming collection of pallets at the entrance of the aforementioned "Wink's Place" in order for the management to flex their power to "punish" me so that I will be forced to not bring home anymore carefully placed, useful, recyclable, re-purpose, and all that goes with the idea of what "Wink's Place" is supposed to represent in honor of a very dedicated former resident. The "violation" as I call it is that folks who do not buy a sticker for $125.00 can get a sticker for free assuming they buy bags. However, if you live in an apartment and the trash is taken care of you have no worry about trash. However, if you have a care giver to take you to places, as many of our folks do, it is quite evident that the care givers are allowed to go shopping at "Winks" even though they live elsewhere because under the guise of their "clients" they are invited to shop. Small peanuts to some I suppose, and frivolous to all of the rest of you. That is fine. But, the management at Mt. Demo do not like being questioned about this and about any other subject. The folks that frequent "Wink's Place" as donors and shoppers come from all walks of life and there are, at times some very useful, valuable items deposited there. But, now we, at least of the moment, we are barred, with yellow tape and saw horses, of indulging in the sport of "picking" all because the management needs to flex their muscles and put out the message that they are in charge. So be it. If this is any indication of their worth as managers take a look at Mt. Demo, the trash blowing around and the stink. Welcome to Rocklandia. If we only knew the truth about what is in that landfill.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 06, 2018 19:46

I almost forgot, Rockland has the key to filling another quarry for we have the ex-employee in the code office who was instrumental in allowing the first quarry to be filled. So, maybe he can put in a good word for us to keep all the quarries and just keep giving them away. Sounds like a sound Rocklandia decision. Good night Chet, Good night David.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 06, 2018 19:42

please correct, in you own way, any misspellings or misunderstandings you may find in my comment below. Thank you, always appreciated.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 06, 2018 19:41

Let me see now,here we go again. No high bidder because the treat of a law suit is eminent. We understand that. But, if we can convince the folks at DEP to let us "sweetheart"another great out-of-state-caper we could drag a few under-valued dollars in to create a tax burden, like the current Mr. Demo will, when it is full, for years to come. Best to take the high road. Without a city attorney, or at least a competent one, the city council makes tons of decisions with no legal opinions to offer to the tax payers just their personal underdeveloped opinions. Mostly knee-jerk at that and apparently based on who can we treat this deal without the impact of what the options are. No need for more thinking or planning since it has been ions that this has been off the tax rolls but how much can that be worth if they are willing to trade for two pieces of land that do not appear to be as valuable as the cash offer. But, what do I know, expect, the city council will for sure, screw this deal up too.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Apr 06, 2018 16:27

The city should not be sitting on their unused property. They've already lost property taxes and the city would stand to gain $$ from the right seller. Another dumping ground for the quarry does not seem wise...

Posted by: James Clinton Leach | Apr 06, 2018 15:41

The City should sell to the highest bidder as with all property owned by Rockland , I am somewhat concerned as to what Jake would use this land for hopefully not a dumping ground for Construction materials stimuliar to his location on Rt-1 which is unsightly and not a very welcoming sight coming into town....Sustaining the ecological existence of any location needs to be a priority.



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