DRESDEN — The hearing for an appeal of a stop work order on a gravel pit has been delayed until a new date can be set.

When the Dresden Appeals Board met Friday, its members were expecting to hear from Heather Beasley, the owner of the Milligan-Ballard Gravel Corp., and James Valley, Dresden’s code enforcement officer.

Town officials had issued a stop work order on the gravel pit at the end of July because Beasley had failed to submit a plan on how she would address the encroachment of her gravel operation into the 150-foot buffer zone that the town’s Land Use and Planning Ordinance requires be maintained from her property line. Beasley had been given a notice of violation in May.

But Beasley, whose family has been operating the gravel pit off Cedar Grove Road for decades before any town or state regulation had been drafted, maintains her operation is exempt from those regulations. She and her lawyer had proposed remediation plans, which had been rejected and her lawyer filed a notice of appeal on the stop work order in September.

It is not clear, however, that Dardis and Beasley expected the board would hear the appeal Friday.

In interviews with the Kennebec Journal last week, both Dardis and Beasley said they had received notice of the hearing on Monday. Dardis said that was not enough time to secure the services of a court reporter or line up witnesses to testify.

In a letter Thursday to Town Administrator Michael Henderson, Dardis wrote that he understood after a conversation with Planning Board Chairman Jeffrey Pierce that Friday’s meeting would be an organizational meeting for the board in part because it had neither a quorum nor a chairman. For those reasons, neither he nor Beasley would attend the meeting, he wrote.

The Planning Board and the Appeals Boards are separate entities.

The public notice of the meeting stated the purpose of the meeting was to hold a public hearing discuss an appeal of a stop work order issued by the code enforcement officer on July 29, 2019.

On Friday, four members of the five-member Appeals Board met in the meeting room at Pownalborough Hall. Because of the death of the board’s longtime chairman, Joseph Atkinson, the board agreed member Steve Collemer would serve as chairman.

While Beasley initially had not planned to attend the hearing, she was there, as was James Valley, Dresden’s code enforcement officer.

Collemer said the board has the ability to do two things: Decide whether the town’s code enforcement office or Planning Board had made an error or omission in an administrative appeal, or hear requests for variances when someone is appealing for relief from a dimensional setback or requirement in the ordinances.

He said the board needed to determine the category under which Beasley’s appeal falls.

Heather Beasley, president of the Ballard-Milligan Gravel Corp., at the entrance Friday to the gravel pit off Cedar Grove Road. The town of Dresden issued a stop work order on the pit earlier this year, a decision Beasley is appealing. Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Jessica Lowell

Jessica Avery, Dresden’s attorney, asked whether Collemer could determine whether Dardis would be attending because she had received the copy of his letter, indicating that he didn’t think he needed to be.

“There was some confusing email this afternoon suggesting that nobody was going to be here regarding the appellants,” Collemer said.

He said his written statements were clear that the board would be receiving information about the appeal Friday.

“We really can’t proceed without it,” Collemer said.

Valley made a recommendation that the hearing be delayed.

“It might be in the town’s best interest to set another hearing. That way (Dardis) will know to be here,” Valley said. “If we don’t allow him his time here with Heather, we may be going down a slippery slope of problems down the line.”

Avery said she was concerned whether the notice was proper. She pointed out Dardis had said he would waive the 35-day deadline requirement for a hearing to be scheduled. She also said Dardis had offered to annotate information for board members.

The board agreed to reschedule the hearing.

The Dresden Board of Selectmen is expected to discuss the vacancy on the appeals board when it meets Tuesday.

The stop work order shut down the gravel pit at the end of July, about midway through the summer construction season. In an interview Friday with the Kennebec Journal, Beasley said the shutdown of her operation had cost her through business she has lost and through her inability to do erosion control on her operation, which has left materials contaminated.

When board members adjourned the appeal hearing, they wanted to hold an organizational meeting. Because there had not been public notification, however, they were unable to hold that meeting.

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