The stormwater management plan for a proposed quarry operation in Hall Quarry, Mount Desert, Maine, is either the best of all options or seriously flawed, depending on who was speaking at a public hearing Tuesday night.
The town’s planning board was considering Harold MacQuinn Inc.’s application for a quarrying license.
According to the original plan, water in the quarry was to be drained out to nearby wetlands, as is currently the case. But under the revised plan, stormwater that enters the quarry will be contained there, slowly draining down through cracks in the granite.
If the water becomes so deep that it interferes with quarry operations, it would be pumped out.
Chip Haskell of the engineering firm CES, which is working with MacQuinn, said a “self-contained, internally drained” quarry would minimize the possibility of having an adverse impact on the surrounding area.
But Dan Pileggi, the attorney representing two nearby property owners, said the stormwater plan is deficient in several respects. He noted that the applicant’s hydrology report on the site was prepared before the decision was made to have the quarry drained internally.
“The hydrology studies do not relate in any way to the current application or to the current, closed system,” he said.
As for the applicant’s claim that the system would not adversely affect groundwater or surrounding properties, Pileggi said, “There’s no science to support it; there’s no hydrology to support what Mr. Haskell is saying; there’s nothing for the planning board to base approval of a closed system on.”
Haskell responded that there is no need for a new hydrology study.
“There’s no benefit to providing a hydrology analysis if common sense dictates that no water is leaving that area,” he said.
Planning board member Meredith Randolph expressed concern that the nearby wetlands, where water from the quarry currently drains, could dry up if water is contained to the quarry. Board Chairman Bill Hanley raised concerns that the wetlands might be contaminated on the occasions water is pumped out of the quarry.
Board members ultimately decided that they didn’t have enough hard information to approve or reject the stormwater management plan. They agreed to schedule another visit to the site to look at the topography and try to get a better understanding of how the proposed internal drainage system would work.
No date for a resumption of the hearing was set.