FARMINGTON — Land Use Planning commissioners on Wednesday night reaffirmed their decision not to hold a public hearing for a proposed Madrid Township gravel pit.

The seven-member board met at the University of Maine at Farmington to hear public comments, followed by detailed discussion about the proposed 25-acre pit.

Commissioners have ultimate responsibility for unorganized territory rules, disputes decisions, policies and administrative decisions.

Rangeley businessman Mark Beauregard plans to crush the rock and truck the gravel over the Reeds Mill Road, which runs west through the township to U.S. Route 4 and east to the Phillips-owned section of the road.

Beauregard’s proposal includes the use of loaders, trucks and screens, so commissioners have required him to show measures to prevent possible contamination and disturbance to the land and the aquifer. The pit could be allowed four years to start and another seven years to operate before the approval process must be repeated.

Beauregard’s permit would allow him to remove 500,000 cubic yards over 10 years.

LUPC regional representative Sara Brusila began with a review of the status of the application. Chairwoman Gwen Hilton of Starks next opened the public comment session with a cautionary note for the two dozen audience members.

“This is not a public hearing,” she said.

Opponents presented impassioned testimony that the pit and traffic would ruin the area’s quality of life with more noise, dust, road damage, danger to people and animals. Blynn Nadeau said he and his wife recently built a camp which abuts Beauregard’s property, and their new kitchen window would look directly into the gravel pit if it is allowed to open.

“This project has the capacity to destroy our community,” Reeds Mill Road landowner Caroline King said.

Toothaker Pond Association member and camp owner Adrienne Rollo said commissioners’ improper communications and exclusion of public input were “troubling” and “disgraceful.”

“We’re desperate for a public hearing,” she said.

Several residents have retained attorney David Kallin to represent their interests and, although he was not in attendance, he communicated concerns to commissioners that Beauregard did not have proper title to the acreage and that gravel excavation on that property was prohibited in an 1869 document.

Landowners were concerned that their property values would decline. Phillips resident and Reeds Mill Road homeowner Lloyd Griscom said he will lose approximately 40 percent of his property’s value, based on his discussion with local real estate agent Robert Cushing.

“Somebody, with your help, wants to dip into our pockets and take out some money,” Griscom said. “We will not accept damage without compensation.”

Janet Bredeau-White, president of the Phillips Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke in support of Beauregard’s plan.

“This is how people make a living in this area,” she said. “My father owned a gravel pit, and he made a good living for his eight kids.”

Jeff Wing also asked commissioners to approve the application.

“There are seven commercial pits and eight smaller pits in the area, and there have been thousands of logs moved,” he said. “There’s never been an issue.”

Rosetta Thompson, executive director of the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District, also spoke as a supporter of Beauregard’s plan, saying she has worked with him often over many years and he makes exemplary efforts to meet environmental requirements.

Beauregard’s attorney, Severin Belliveau, noted this is the fourth commissioners’ meeting to review the application. His client, he said, purchased 300 acres of land many years ago with the clear understanding that mining gravel was a permitted use and that this application process has been lengthy and complex.

“You have 34 conditions Mr. Beauregard has met,” Belliveau said. “He’s provided you with all the information you required.”

Commissioners have a draft approval for the gravel pit but encouraged additional input from the audience by email or in written correspondence by July 24. Commissioners expect to approve the final permit application at their meeting Aug. 14 in Farmington.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: