DRESDEN — The Planning Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve an application from Dick Condon, of Chelsea, for permission to operate a gravel pit on Ludwig Road, despite opposition from several neighbors.

Emotional and concerned property owners and other residents attended a hearing at the board meeting at Pownalborough Hall to continue their battle over the pit proposal and the requirements and feasibility of operating one.

The board allowed Condon, who attended a public hearing at the meeting with his attorney, Mary Denison, of Lake and Denison LLP, to operate the pit from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The proposal drew criticism from many at the meeting.

George Chapman and his wife Emily Estes own Wild Grace Wellness Center on Ludwig Road and argued that gravel road’s effect on his patients would be troubling, and Estes said it would be a disaster for her patients and her business.

“I’m extremely concerned with loaded trucks coming down toward (our patients), and something like this isn’t going to be good for them,” Chapman said. “We don’t need (our patients) getting scared or driving off the road.”

Additional contentiousness came from Donald and Debra Swift, whose property abuts the gravel pit. The Swifts had a survey of the property done independently of the town’s survey and presented the results at the meeting, which did not match.

“It’s nonsense,” Donald Swift said during the hearing. “The ecosystem is destroyed up there, which wasn’t Mr. Condon’s fault, but now he wants to dig the heck out of it.”

Gary Getchell, whose family has owned property on Ludwig Road since 1883, said one of the site’s major problems is the narrow road leading to the pit and the fact that dump trucks would travel the route frequently, disturbing everything near the pit.

“This will disturb the tranquility of the community,” Getchell said. Access to his property is not from Ludwig Road, but it abuts it. Getchell said he heard that gravel already has been taken from the site, despite Condon being issued a stop-work order.

The lone voice that spoke during the public hearing in favor of the pit was Donald Lynch, whose home on Ludwig Road would not be affected by the gravel pit. He favors the plan because of the improvements to Ludwig Road promised by Condon as a condition of his application.

After a number of speakers offered comments against the pit, Planning Board Chairman Jeff Pierce cautioned attendees about the process involved in approving a project of this nature.

“It’s difficult for the board because we understand what everyone is saying, but we cannot pick and choose which projects we are involved in,” Pierce said. “We have to follow a set of ordinances voted on by the people of Dresden.”

Town regulations require a 150-foot buffer between gravel pits and boundary lines, and during the Nov. 29 site visit, town officials not only walked the driveway into the pit, but also observed boundary markers in the woods.

In September, the Planning Board fined Condon $625 for violating a stop-work order issued by town code enforcement officer James Valley. Condon paid the fine as an after-the-fact permit fee in mid-November before the Planning Board voted unanimously to accept Condon’s application for the mining permit.

The gravel pit on Ludwig Road has been a point of contention in Dresden for months. Condon began the application process in September when he presented plans for his 10-acre lot parcel to the Planning Board, which included extracting gravel, loam and fill from the area.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


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