The town of Whitefield is holding a public hearing Monday on proposed amendments to its mining ordinance that residents are expected to vote on in November.

A proposal approved in December by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection from Harry C. Crooker and Sons Inc. to excavate below the water line and create a 37-acre pond at the Topsham-based company’s 157-acre pit at Thayer Road and Route 218 prompted the town to examine its development ordinance.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Whitefield fire station. If the responses from residents at the meeting require town officials to revise the proposed amendments, a second public hearing will be held a week later.

The town has been working on the revised ordinance since March, when residents at the Town Meeting approved a 180-day moratorium, retroactive to Jan. 31, on new or expanded mining operations. The moratorium was approved and extended in July to give the Planning Board time to craft the changes to the ordinance.

Town officials were concerned Whitefield didn’t have adequate regulations for mining operations because a Sagadahoc County Superior Court judge declared the town’s ordinance unconstitutionally vague in 1994. It hasn’t been updated since.

The development ordinance requires applicants meet general standards regarding not placing unreasonable burdens on residents or hurting the town’s finances, but it doesn’t say what the standards mean or how to determine if a proposal meets them.

The proposed amendments removed those general, vague requirements and added extensive detailed requirements for mineral extraction and gravel mining. The revised ordinance also includes more detailed water quality rules, gives more power to the town’s code officer to inspect operations and allows the board to seek advice from outside experts when reviewing proposals.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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