WINTHROP — The Town Council voted Monday to extend a temporary ban on approving or operating quarries and sand and gravel pits for another 180 days, through March 9.

Officials are continuing to formulate rules to regulate the industry after a proposal for a quarry this spring sparked backlash from residents.

The moratorium was set to expire on Sept. 30 after a similar motion failed to pass during the last council meeting on Sept. 11. The previous vote was 3-2 favoring an extension but could not pass as two councilors were absent, and a minimum of four votes are needed to pass a motion.

“The council extended the moratorium because they felt the Planning Board needed more time to work on the ordinance,” said Council Chair Anthony Wess, who voted against the motion in Monday’s 5-1 vote.

Councilor Elizabeth Peters was marked absent as she could not join in time for the vote. Peters and Wess were the two councilors who voted against the extension during the Sept. 11 vote.

Town Manager Anthony Wilson said that while excavation is prohibited under the moratorium, contractors are allowed to transport any materials they had mined and stockpiled before the ban went into effect.


Winthrop’s Planning Board is working in collaboration with the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, an organization involved in formulating ordinances for numerous towns, to craft an ordinance that will address the issue.

“KVCOG has presented the Planning Board with an all-encompassing template that will act as a start-off point to create the right ordinance,” said Wilson. “The Planning Board is going to meet and discuss and tweak and remove what they require from that template. The final version will be very different from the current template.”

Officials from KVCOG have referenced mineral excavation ordinances from other towns to provide a blueprint. They have also been present in recent Planning Board meetings to explain and discuss the process.

Discussions have revolved around the prospect of entirely banning excavation activities, which was deemed illegal. However, it was pointed out that instead of banning activities, the ordinance could strictly limit activities in and around residential zones.

The moratorium was originally put into effect earlier this year, in April, when residents shared their concerns regarding a proposal for a quarry on Turkey Lane. The proposal prompted discussions about the environmental and health complications a quarry would bring to Winthrop.

Those favoring the quarry argued that prohibiting the proposal could hurt the town’s ability to attract businesses.

The Town Council can, if needed, vote to extend the moratorium for another 180 days. State law does not cap the number of times a moratorium can be extended, as long as the problem that prompted it still exists and “reasonable progress” is being made to alleviate it.

The next Planning Board meeting, where the sand and gravel activities will be discussed, is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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