Main delays blasting prohibition

Augusta council in Main expects to delay a decision on blasting limits that thewaten the viabiloity of several quarries, reports

The proposed changes to the city’s blasting ordinance would have reduced the number of blasts allowed per year in mineral extraction, or quarrying, operations to six.

City councilors said they want to give the city staff time to gather expert opinion about the effects of quarry operations on the nearby houses.

The proposed change to the blasting ordinance was a compromise meant to settle a long-running dispute between Steve McGee, the owner of McGee construction, and neighbors of his quarry.

Last month city councilors proposed reducing the standard for allowable blasts in rock-production quarries to just 15 percent of the current standards, which the two quarry owners in the city — McGee and Peter Quirion, of Quirion Construction — said would require blasts to be too small for their operations to be feasible.

Last week city councilors proposed, instead, to make no changes to the performance standards, which are based on ground vibration and particle velocity measurements, and instead cut the number of blasts allowed in each quarry to about half the blasts allowed under their current licenses.
McGee, though, did not support the compromise and said the reduction would make it impossible for that part of his business to be viable. This week, McGee asked councilors to delay making any decisions on the ordinance, given the fact that his own blasting license expires in the spring. He said he doesn’t intend to make more than six blasts in 2017 before he has to apply for a new license.

Councilors decided to delay any decisions on the ordinance changes after hearing from city attorney Stephen Langsdorf, who said reducing the number of blasts in a year would not do much to address the homeowners’ concerns. Langsdorf also told councilors that the most important task would be having new rules in place before McGee has to renew his five-year license in the spring.

“I would caution or recommend that the big picture, best idea is to look hard at what can be done during the winter,” Langsdorf said

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