AUGUSTA — The two companies that blast rock under the provisions of the city’s mineral extraction ordinance, both of which have licenses set to expire in June, may be granted license extensions until the end of the year to give city councilors time to consider changes to the ordinance to try to address neighbors’ complaints about blasting.

Councilors meet Thursday to consider the latest twist in various proposals, over the last several years, aimed at quieting a long-running dispute primarily between residents of the Grandview neighborhood and McGee Construction. McGee operates a nearby rock-quarrying operation involving blasting in a pit off West River Road, and neighbors have complained about damage to their homes and disruptions to their lives.

Councilors failed to reach consensus on proposals meant to address neighbors’ concerns after extensive debate last year and extending into this year. An extension would give the council time to revise the ordinance that affects both McGee and Quirion Construction, owner of the only other mineral extraction operation involving blasting in Augusta. Both owners then would need to seek to renew their licenses early next year under the terms of the potentially revised ordinance, if councilors do indeed use the extra time to change the ordinance.

“This continues to be a complicated issue and my sense is most members of the council would like some more time to get it right,” City Manager William Bridgeo said Tuesday. “This allows the status quo this construction season but also provides councilors an opportunity to make changes that’d be in place for the 2018 construction season, if they desire.”

If councilors approve the proposed order Thursday, the existing ordinance rules and license provisions, including number of blasts per year allowed in each pit, would remain in place, and blasting would be able to continue as it has, until the end of the year. Blasting generally takes place only during the construction season, not during the winter.

Currently, Quirion Construction may have 12 blasts a year, while the McGee site can have 10 a year.

“In other words, this keeps the business flowing in its typical and common manner,” Mayor David Rollins said when councilors discussed the proposal two weeks ago. “We don’t want an acceleration of blasts impacting the neighborhood, and we don’t want a deceleration of blasts affecting the businesses.”

Peter Quirion, owner of Quirion Construction, which blasts in a pit north of McGee’s pit but also on West River Road, urged councilors to move forward with the process sooner rather than later, and said the Planning Board should be allowed to go ahead with the mineral extraction licensing process in June.

“I’ve done a lot of work already to go through the licensing process, I’m really not looking forward to having it go into next fall, or even winter, because it does leave my business in limbo,” he said. “Let the applicants go before the Planning Board and let them do their jobs. I’d just as soon do it in the spring and get it over with. That way I can have my business plan go out five years. Then I can do other planning for my future.”

Rollins said officials would work as quickly as they could on the issue but noted new councilors just joined the council in January, so they are new to the issue.

Councilors are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday.

They are also scheduled to:

• Present a Mayor’s Recognition of Excellence Award, for outstanding contributions to the people of Augusta, to Rick and Patty Tardiff and their family;

• Hear a presentation on A Capital Read 2017 from Elizabeth Pohl, director of Lithgow Public Library; and

• Consider scheduling a special municipal election to fill one vacant council seat and one vacant school board seat for June 13, the day of an expected referendum vote on the school budget.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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