AUGUSTA — Councilors are expected to vote Thursday on a proposal to extend the mineral extraction licenses of commercial quarry operators who blast in the city.

In addition, the council action would ban any review by the Planning Board of license renewal extensions until August to give officials more time to consult with a blasting expert before considering renewing those licenses.

The extension, in its current form, would not apply to operators which have already received their license renewals.

There are only two quarry operators in the city that blast rock, Quirion Construction and McGee Construction, which blast at separate pit sites off West River Road. And Quirion Construction was granted a five-year license renewal by the Planning Board April 25. That leaves only McGee, who submitted his license renewal application to the city April 19, subject to the proposal. His application for a license renewal is currently expected to go to the Planning Board later this month.

Councilors last week said they want to be sure the Planning Board has the information it needs to make a decision, including information expected to be gained from a Freeport blasting expert. Councilors have agreed to spend up to $15,000 to study the blasting provisions of the mineral extraction ordinance, analyze two problematic past blasts, and hold a workshop for, and be available to, the Planning Board to provide analysis and recommendations on blasting before McGee’s license is considered for renewal.

“I don’t think we should be putting the cart before the horse,” Stephen Langsdorf, city attorney, told councilors last week. “Get the information from the expert and then let the Planning Board make a decision based on what the expert is saying. Rather than try to unscramble the egg.”


Blasting at McGee’s site has prompted ongoing complaints from residents of the nearby Grandview neighborhood, some of whom have said they believe it has damaged the foundations of their homes, and disrupted their lives.

Quirion’s blasting operations, by comparison, have drawn little complaint from its neighbors.

The Planning Board attached a condition to its renewal of Quirion’s license noting that if the City Council makes any changes to the mineral extraction ordinance, even after the license is renewed, the company would have to comply with the amended ordinance.

And Langsdorf said the board would likely make that a condition of McGee’s license, when it is reviewed, as well.

However, Langsdorf noted the city may want to impose conditions specific to McGee’s site, as part of his license renewal, that the city wouldn’t be able to add later by changing the ordinance, because any such change would apply to all licensees, not just McGee. And he said the expert consultant may be able to guide the Planning Board on what conditions could be applied, before McGee’s license is renewed.

Lou Craig, a Grandview resident, said the expert consultant should hear the problems and experiences his neighbors have had with blasting as part of his review, “because everybody has got a little something to add to the piece of the puzzle for this engineer.”


City Manager William Bridgeo said he would send a letter, Monday, to every resident of Grandview neighborhood, inviting them to submit written comments about what they’ve experienced due to the blasting, to be reviewed by the consultant.

Matt Nazar, development director, said the Planning Board sets its meeting schedule and can delay a decision on an application if members feel they need more information.

However Ward 1 Councilor Linda Conti, a former Planning Board member, while agreeing the board can do so, said the board could also approve McGee’s license in one meeting, without consulting the expert, as the board did with Quirion’s license.

“They can also approve the license, without the expert, if we don’t act,” she said.

Nazar said even if the council does not ban the Planning Board from considering McGee’s license renewal before August, it will still be his recommendation to the board they consult with the expert to help them review McGee’s license renewal application. He also said board members have been following the issue and are aware of the concerns about blasting.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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