Groups challenge bottling permit

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RANGELEY – The town, the Rangeley Crossroads Coalition, the Chamber of Commerce and others filed an appeal Friday of a decision by the Land Use Regulation Commission to allow Poland Spring Water Co. to build a water pumping station and loading facility in Dallas Plantation.

Sarah McDaniel, a lawyer representing the petitioners, said Tuesday the Rangeley area groups feel the pumping station and attached tanker truck loading dock represent an “industrial use” not permitted by LURC in a general management zone or in LURC’s region-specific Rangeley Plan.

In their appeal, petitioners claim Poland Spring’s plans to run up to 100 tanker-truck trips from the facility to bottling plants also violates LURC traffic standards and presents a safety risk. The appeal argues additional truck traffic could also harm the local tourism economy.

Besides suggesting that the LURC decision violates state statutes and zoning laws, the Rangeley petitioners also argue LURC’s OK of the Poland Spring pumping station will cause suffering to the parties in the suit. The additional traffic and removal of water from the aquifer used by the Oquossoc Water District will negatively affect petitioners by decreasing road safety, increasing noise, damaging the scenic character of the region, damaging the tourism-based economy, and diminishing the quantity and quality of water in the aquifer.

LURC Director Catherine Carroll said Tuesday she has not read the appeal, and that LURC has handed it over to the Attorney General’s Office.

But she said she disagrees with the petitioners claim that the proposed Poland Spring facility is an industrial use. “It’s water extraction. It’s a pump, and a pad for a truck. That is not an industrial use. I see a sawmill as an industrial (use). This was a permit for water extraction.” She added she feels the appeal is “far-fetched.”

LURC counsel Jeff Pidot said he expects that unless the “plaintiffs seek and obtain some kind of stay” in construction, he said, Poland Spring will probably continue with its plans.

Poland Spring representative Tom Brennan concurred.

“You know, I think it’s unfortunate” the decision is being appealed, he said. The Dallas Plantation project is “part of a regional project, and it represents a lot of opportunity for the whole region,” Brennan said.

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