Crooker to work with Alna pit neighbors ahead of blasting proposal

Posted:  Tuesday, July 3, 2018 - 7:45am

Before asking the town’s permission to blast, Crooker Construction will meet with neighbors of the Alna-Whitefield gravel pit, engineer Mike Abbott of the Topsham firm told the Alna Planning Board Monday night. The decision came after he, the board, two of Alna’s three selectmen and other attendees heard one neighbor’s concerns.

Mike Preston said he would want his wellwater tested for quality, including checking for arsenic. He doesn't want to rely on bottled water, Preston said. “These things can happen.”

He said when he owned the Alna Store, someone blasted in the area and the store lost its water. More pipe had to be added, he said.

Abbott said he was open to testing more than turbidity. He would meet with neighbors to reach a consensus on what to measure; then the firm will apply to blast up to an acre of the pit in the next few years, with some blasting into exposed bedrock this year to see if the rocks would make a good mix with other materials.

Abbott told the board he sent copies of an application via Federal Express to Chair Beth Whitney. She said she didn't get them. Someone did, Abbott said. Whitney’s husband Roger made copies of one Abbott brought to the meeting. But after hearing from Preston, Abbott planned to reapply. Chair Whitney asked him to send it priority mail. He said he would do either that or hand-deliver it.

Board member Peter Tischbein said what the panel calls for could differ from what Crooker and the neighbors work out.

Also Monday, after an executive session with attorney Amanda Meader of the Augusta firm of Ellis & Meader and County Planner Bob Faunce, the board agreed to start work on amendments to the subdivision ordinance. A July 17 workshop was planned.

Members explained a series of subdivision requests the board now faces are the first in a long time and the ordinance could use an update. 

Surveyor Mike Falla told the board Monday, landowner Heidi Faulkner wants to divide about 60 acres into five big lots, three on Route 218 and two on Old Sheepscot Road. According to a preliminary sketch plan distributed that night, no documentation has been found to show that stretch of Old Sheepscot Road was abandoned. Members said that hasn’t been determined yet. Alternate member Jeff Spinney said, “I would plan on another means of access to those back lots.”

In a separate item, the board told Steven Pierce his plans to sell Route 218 acreage would fall under the subdivision ordinance.

And the board approved, 5-0, changes to Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum’s plans to put a bridge over Trout Brook. Representing the nonprofit, Jason Lamontagne said a prefabricated timber crib will replace a planned pile support, and the track will be lower but still above the flood plain. Plans call for the bridge to be finished in mid to late August, with September as a backup, he said.