KINGFIELD – Planning Board members voted unanimously to accept a Poland Spring Water Co. application to build a bottling plant in town as complete Monday night.

The bottling company submitted an application to build the $60 million to $80 million plant in April, after more than a year of preparations. Planning Board members have been sporadically reviewing the thousands of pages of application materials for completeness since then, requesting more information about subjects.

Now that the application has been accepted as complete, the board is required to set a date for a public hearing. The hearing is a time for abutters, residents and others to submit information or comments about the proposed project to the board for consideration.

Deliberations on whether or not to grant a permit can only start after the public hearing.

Board members Monday laid out plans for the hearing process. On Monday, Sept. 11, there will be a preliminary meeting to organize for the hearing. People who have information to present at the hearing should come to that meeting, Planning Board Chairman David Guernsey said. People who want to comment on the project, but who don’t plan to talk for long periods of time or submit large amounts of information need not attend that meeting, he said.

The hearing will take place over a number of weeks, with the first part taking place from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Sept. 13 and 14, at the Kingfield Elementary School. The first day, Poland Spring representatives will introduce their project, and discuss non-groundwater withdrawal issues. From 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, there will be an hour set aside for public comments, and then the meeting will go on as usual.

The second part of the hearing will take place over two days during the week of Sept 25, and will focus solely on water-withdrawal issues, Guernsey said.

“It’s good to see the project move forward,” Poland Spring natural resources manager Tom Brennan said, leaving Monday night’s meeting. “I am very pleased. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Poland Spring officials are hoping the hearings and deliberations go quickly, Brennan said, because the company hopes to start breaking ground this fall, before it gets too cold to do work on the proposed plant site. “I’m really looking forward to getting some site work done before winter,” Brennan said.

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