CHESTERVILLE — Members of the Planning Board indicated at their recent workshop that they are leaning toward granting a waiver that would allow gravel extraction below the groundwater table.

A decision is expected at the board meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11.

In 2012, Adam and Susan Castonguay, owners of Castonguay Sand and Gravel of Chesterville, applied to the Department of Environmental Protection for a variance to excavate gravel below the groundwater table on their land between Dutch Gap and Besson Pit roads. It was approved in January 2015.

In November 2013, voters approved the Chesterville Water Quality Ordinance, which prohibits mineral excavation within 5 feet of the high-water table without a waiver. 

In July 2015, the Castonguays submitted a waiver application to the Planning Board. 

“We need strong grounds if the waiver is denied,” Code Enforcement Officer Brenda Medcoff said at Thursday night’s workshop. 

Planning Board Secretary Dan Simonds said there are potential benefits to the town in having a successful operation.

“If we grant the waiver, we can put reasonable conditions on it,” board member Greg Soule said.

The Castonguay family started the application process and the Water Quality Ordinance was a knee-jerk reaction to their application, Soule said. The board has to be careful about setting a precedent, but there are some grounds for a waiver, he said.

Floyd Besson, the previous owner of the property, “made a pond there that was deep enough to supply water to keep the roads wet during hot topping. The groundwater has already been exposed in that area,” Soule said.

Soule gave three reasons that justify granting the waiver:

1. DEP has already granted a variance for the project;

2. The process was started before the town approved the Water Quality Ordinance; and

3. Economic hardship will result if the waiver isn’t granted.

“It’s hard for us to come up with a different conclusion than the DEP,” board member Linton Robinson said.”

Board member Danny Elder suggested making the waiver specific to the owners of the pit and not transferable. Another condition for the waiver would be that the town could rescind it if something happened and the DEP variance is pulled, he said.

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