WINTHROP — A group of Winthrop residents is attempting to halt a proposed sand and gravel quarry they say could pose hazards to residents and local aquatic life.

The group, called Stop the Winthrop Quarry, wants town officials to place a moratorium on the plan — and applications for any similar projects — until officials have a better understanding of the public health and environmental impacts it could create.

The Winthrop Planning Board has not yet approved the proposal, which would enable Lewiston-based L/A Properties LLC to create an open-pit mine, a rock-crushing operation and reestablish a gravel pit at the former Hillandale Egg Farm on Turkey Lane. The project will face one of its first local regulatory hurdles Wednesday, when the Planning Board is set to hear the company’s request to establish a gravel pit on the east side of Turkey Lane. The group estimates that this will be where the open-pit mine rock crusher is placed.

Concerns about the plan include the possibility of microscopic dust particles from the quarry traveling toward schools and the downtown area, according to the Stop The Winthrop Quarry website. Those airborne particles could cause health issues such as silicosis, a long-term lung disease caused by inhaling large amounts of silica dust. This type of dust is naturally found in certain types of stone, rock, sand and clay, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. The dust could also settle in Hoyt Brook headwaters, negatively impacting aquatic life.

Richard Breton, owner of L/A Properties, said that the gravel pit that will be taken up by the Planning Board has been licensed by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for 32 years and operated for 10 years prior to that as a small pit.

And out of the 188 acres purchased, Breton said only 5 acres would be used for crushing and mining operations.


“The dust is so minimal,” he said, “and again we only crush probably four weeks a year, and make enough product in those four weeks to last us, as a company, for over a year.”

As for the benefits, he said that crushed rock is a product that people and municipalities need, whether it’s for concrete for building houses, creating a septic system and burying pipe, or for sanding roads.

“It’s a product that everybody needs,” he said. “It’s like bread. It’s just as important as gas in a vehicle.”

Additionally, he said the project will create an additional 12 to 15 jobs in the area.

The Winthrop code enforcement officer and residents associated with the Stop the Winthrop Quarry group did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the proposal made over several days. Winthrop Planning Board Chairperson David Lee, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection Mining Coordinator Mike Clark did not immediately respond to requests for comments or permit application materials Monday. State offices were closed Monday because of the snow storm.

According to Stop The Winthrop Quarry, L/A Properties’ permit application calls for 1,100 truckloads of rock to be blasted, crushed and moved at the site.

The group of residents is gathering signatures for a letter of support for the moratorium to be presented to the Planning Board during a Feb. 8 meeting.

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