The Dresden Planning Board has fined a Ludwig Road gravel pit owner for violating a stop-work order, although the owner denies knowingly violating the order.
The board voted 5-1 in favor of imposing the $625 fine on Dick Condon during its meeting at Pownalborough Hall Tuesday, Sept. 1. About 25 people – most Ludwig Road residents with concerns about the recent use of the pit – attended the meeting.
The planning board was going to review Condon’s application for a mining permit, according to the meeting agenda. Condon had not completed his application, however.
The meeting did provide an opportunity for Dresden officials to deliver a stern warning to Condon and for his new neighbors to air their concerns about his operation.
Dresden Code Enforcement Officer James Valley said he gave Condon a verbal stop-work order Aug. 24 and a written stop-work order Aug. 26. The action came after residents contacted the town about the unpermitted use of the pit.
“Reports came in that you were still doing mining work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,” Valley said. “It was witnessed by abutters and by board members.”
Condon could face much more grave consequences than a $625 fine for future violations, according to Dresden Planning Board Chairman Jeffrey Pierce.
“Mr. Condon, when we say stop work, we do mean stop work,” Pierce said. “If this stop-work order is not adhered to, we are going to assume that you are trying to circumvent the Dresden town ordinances and we will put a five-year moratorium on this project and make you fill that hole in, which has been done in the town before, and we’re within our rights to do that.”
“I’m just warning you this is what will happen,” Pierce said. “I just want you to recognize the severity of this, because we have to go by our ordinances, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent.”
Condon disputed the violations, saying his neighbor was responsible for hauling gravel out of the pit after the issuance of the stop-work order. The neighbor did so without Condon’s knowledge or permission, he said.
Valley said he has since issued a stop-work order to the neighbor as well.
After the vote to impose a $625 fine, Pierce opened the meeting to comments.
Gary Getchell lives on Ludwig Road on property his family has owned since 1883, he said.
“I was a young child when Ludwig Road washed out back in the late ’30s or early ’40s,” Getchell said. “The town voted at the time to discontinue maintenance on the road, but continue it as a town road.”
In more recent years, Donald and Debra Swift bought property on the road and paid for repairs to the town road in order to be able to access their property – not for large trucks to carry gravel in and out, Getchell said.
The town now performs some maintenance on the road, although it remains quite narrow at 14 feet wide, while gravel trucks are about 8 feet wide, according to Getchell.
“How in the name of Heaven can two trucks go up and down that road, one going up and one going down, if the road itself isn’t even wide enough for two trucks to pass?” Getchell said.
“I must speak out today and I will speak out until this whole thing is settled against any kind of commercial activity up on that road,” Getchell said.
Other neighbors echoed Getchell’s concerns about the width of the road.
“How do a truck and a car get by?” Debra Swift said. “Why should any of us have to put our car in the ditch? A rolling dump truck can’t stop.”
The narrow road poses a problem for cars already, according to resident George Chapman. “When we have two cars passing each other on that road, we have to find a wide spot and one of us has to wait before we can pass the other,” he said.
Chapman and others also expressed concern about safety. Eight children live in the five homes on Ludwig Road, according to one resident.
“These trucks are moving mighty fast,” Chapman said. “My grandson is 4 years old and I dread the day that he’s outside and he’s out in the road when one of those trucks comes over the hill up by the Swifts, because if he’s moving that fast, there’s no way he’s going to stop, especially if he’s loaded.”
“If that’s what’s going to be going on on our quiet, residential road, I’m not in favor of it at all and I’ll be right behind Mr. Getchell fighting it,” Chapman said.
Chapman’s wife, Emily Estes, expressed concern about erosion and other damage to the road since Condon started work.
“Where the road meets (Route) 128, it is completely gutted out,” Estes said. “It is like a washboard, and it was not like that 30 days ago. I am totally against this project.”
Ludwig Road resident John Matzke said the town was grading Ludwig Road three or four times every summer without heavy truck use.
“If all these trucks start going up there, it’s going to be an enormous cost,” Matzke said. “There’s going to have to be some big work done on that road as Ludwig Road hits 128 for all these trucks to make a turn up there.”
Dresden Third Selectman Allan Moeller Sr. oversees much of the town’s roadwork.
The town will “definitely” have to pave the first 100 feet of Ludwig Road if the gravel pit goes forward, “so it’s going to be a cost to the town and maybe you want to put that on Mr. Condon,” Moeller said.
Pierce, the planning board chairman, said the planning board will determine whether Condon’s application is complete at the next meeting. The board would then determine if he meets the criteria in the ordinance and schedule a public hearing and site walk.