FRYEBURG – The Board of Appeals heard arguments Thursday regarding a proposed Poland Spring water trucking facility, but held off on making a decision.

The water company, a subsidiary of Nestle Waters North America, has disputed a decision by the Planning Board that concluded the facility does not constitute a “low-impact” business in the rural residential zone where it is being proposed.

The facility on Route 302 would fill a maximum of 50 trucks per day with water piped in from a Denmark aquifer. The proposal has created controversy over whether the facility qualifies for zoning in the rural residential zone, as well as questions regarding its possible effects on traffic, noise and pollution levels, and other concerns.

Nestle Waters was granted a permit in 2005, but the decision was overturned by the Board of Appeals. The issue was returned to the Planning Board by both Oxford County Superior Court and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Carmen Doughty, a board member who was on the Planning Board during the initial decision, recused herself from the meeting.

Philip Ahrens, representing Nestle Waters, argued that the facility will meet low-impact traffic standards and that the facility qualified as a “non-intensive” business under a 2005 Planning Board review.

“It is logical to say that non-intensive is the same as low-impact,” Ahrens said.

Ahrens said the facility would only serve 50 trucks per day during the peak season, and run an average of 22 trucks per day through the site. He also argued that sites with high activity, such as hospitals, are allowed in the rural residential zone.

Jon Edgerton, a project engineer, said the added trucks would make up “a very tiny fraction of the traffic on 302.”

Scott Anderson, an attorney representing the Western Maine Residents for Rural Living, a group opposing the facility, said the site would be operational 24 hours a day all year. He also argued that the facility would be on a section of highway prone to accidents, and that trucks pulling out of the facility will be unable to match the highway speed limit quickly enough.

“We think that the evidence is overwhelming that this is not a low-impact use,” Anderson said.

Residents’ comments were limited to those who had submitted paperwork regarding the original proposal in 2005.

“I don’t think anyone hates Poland Spring,” said Dave Hendricks of Bridgton Road. “We just don’t want certain businesses to come into rural residential and take over.”

Ed Price, an abutter to the proposed site, argued that the facility would not be low-impact due to several factors, including the times of operation, excessive signs and possibility of widening Route 302. He said the slow speed of departing trucks will slow traffic and increase the risk of accidents.

Board member Bill Lowell moved to table the decision, saying members had not received materials on the matter until late in the day. The motion carried 3-1, with Lowell, Linwood Buck and Angelo Milia voting in favor and Greg Huemmler voting against.

The board will revisit the matter Jan. 28.


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