Grandfather rights dispute closes Maine quarry

Harold MacQuinn Inc and Freshwater Stone & Brickwork Inc have appealed the Planning Board’s June 13 denial of their application for a license to operate a granite quarry in the village of Hall Quarry, reports the Mount Desert Islander.

No date has yet been set for the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals to take up the appeal, which was filed last Friday by Ed Bearor, the attorney representing MacQuinn and Freshwater.
An ordinance passed by voters in 2013 banned quarrying and all other forms of mineral extraction in Mount Desert. But “existing” quarries were grandfathered and eligible for licensing.

A number of people who live near the quarry site argued that the quarry did not qualify for grandfathered status because there have been long periods of time when stone was not being extracted and the quarry was dormant.

Bearer argued on behalf of his clients that quarrying is not limited to the extraction of stone, but includes the removal of previously cut stone from the site. And he presented documents showing that such activity had continued during periods when stone was not being cut.

But the Planning Board voted 4-1 to find that the quarry did not meet the standard for grandfathering. The board agreed that quarrying involves both the “cutting and carrying” of stone, but those voting in the majority determined that those activities had not occurred at the Hall Quarry site within the timeframe required by the land use ordinance.
Bearor wrote in his appeal application that the Planning Board “erred in its interpretation of the ordinance.”

He said the board was wrong in concluding that MacQuinn, which owns the property, and Freshwater, which has been leasing it, were required to show that the quarry was a “nonconforming quarrying operation at the time of the [2013] enactment of the quarrying ordinance.”

Bearor stated that the companies’ application for a quarrying license was not governed by the land use ordinance, but by the quarrying ordinance.

“Under that ordinance, the applicant was simply required to be an existing unlicensed quarrying activity,” he wrote.

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