Selectmen to extend moratorium

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

The Bridgton Board of Selectmen will meet on October 5, 2010 — one week earlier than originally planned — in order to meet a statutory requirement that would allow them to extend a temporary moratorium ordinance regarding extractive industries, such as sand and gravel pits, another 180 days.

Members of the Bridgton Aggregate Committee, charged with establishing regulations for extraction industries, have been diligently at work, since a temporary moratorium was enacted by referendum vote at the June annual town meeting, selectmen said last week.

The committee still has a lot more work to do that will not be completed by the time the moratorium expires next month, they told selectmen in their memo to the board requesting that the moratorium be extended.

“The ‘Temporary Moratorium Ordinance on Acceptance, Processing and Approval of Applications and Permits for Extractive Industry in the Town of Bridgton’ expires on October 9, 2010,” the committee members stated in their Aug. 30 memo to the board. “The Committee meets every Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in an effort to establish regulations for extraction industries. Our process will not be completed before the moratorium expires, therefore, we respectfully request the Board of Selectmen consider extending the moratorium for an additional 180 days.”

The temporary moratorium ordinance on acceptance, processing and approval of applications and permits for extractive industry in Bridgton approved by voters in June was retroactive to April 13, 2010, the date of adoption by the municipal officers of Bridgton of an order placing the temporary moratorium ordinance on the ballot for a referendum on June 8, 2010, and it shall continue in effect for 180 days through Oct. 9, 2010.

For the purposes of the temporary moratorium ordinance, the term “extractive industry” means “the excavation, blasting, processing or removal of 25 cubic yards of peat, sand, gravel, rock or other mineral deposits from any lot or parcel of land in the town of Bridgton.”

Public hearing on moratorium extension Oct. 5

Under Maine law, the term of the temporary moratorium ordinance shall be subject to extension by the board of selectmen, after notice and public hearing. The key words here are “public hearing.”

Because the Committee’s Aug. 30 memo requesting the moratorium extension was not taken up by the board until last week, the selectmen were not able to meet the public notice requirement about holding a public hearing prior to the Oct. 9 expiration date. Therefore, the board could not formally enact the 180-day moratorium extension when they met Sept. 14, even though they voted unanimously to do just that. Again, due to the public notice requirement, the selectmen were not able to schedule the public hearing for their next regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

So, the selectmen will hold the required public hearing, when they meet at 6 p.m. on Oct. 5, and are likely to reaffirm their vote from Sept. 14 to extend the temporary moratorium on extractive industries, as requested by the Aggregate Committee.

Earlier this year, a proposal by Shawnee Peak Ski Area owners Chester E. Homer III and his wife, Shirley B. Homer, came before the Bridgton Planning Board saying they were seeking approval “to create a small rock quarry on a parcel of land that we own.” The quarry the Homers are hoping to have approved would occupy approximately 30 acres of an 80-acre parcel of land in West Bridgton and accessed off Route 302 (North High Street), they said. In their Dec. 21, 2009 letter to the Bridgton Planning Board, the Homers stated, “With respect to the operation of the quarry, we will use Maine Drilling & Blasting and would blast in sizes of 20,000 yards at a time, keeping blasting to a minimum. R.S. Pidacks Inc. would be responsible for the on-site crushing and screening of the rock. We would not maintain any permanent crushing equipment.”  The Homers proposed to operate the quarry Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 7 a.m. until noon.

On Jan. 5, 2010, the planning board voted to table the Homers’ application, until they came back to the board, at which time the planning board would schedule a public hearing. The Homers have yet to come back before the planning board.

After the Homers’ quarry proposal was aired, however, many members of the community took up the cause of having a moratorium enacted on extractive businesses, so regulations could be formulated, and the matter was placed on the June 8 ballot in referendum form and thus was enacted by voters.

Please follow and like us: