The Dresden Planning Board will consult an attorney before it continues the review process for Ludwig Road gravel pit owner Dick Condon’s mining permit application.
Dresden Planning Board Chairman Jeffrey Pierce called an abrupt halt to the board’s meeting at Pownalborough Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 15 after expressing concerns that Condon was attempting to circumvent town regulations.
According to Condon and the gravel pit’s previous owner, Andy Krechkin, Krechkin retained a 5-foot-wide strip of land around Condon’s land.
“One of the reasons was … that makes Andy the abutting landowner and … Andy signed a thing that I could go (within) 25 feet of the line,” Condon said.
Dresden regulations require a 150-foot buffer between gravel pits and boundary lines.
“We can ask our attorney for his version of what he thinks this means,” Pierce said. “I really think, by keeping 5 feet, somebody had read the ordinances and (was) trying to circumvent them. Nobody keeps 5 feet around a piece of land.”
In one place, Krechkin now owns a strip of land 1,008 feet long and 5 feet wide. The unusual shape of the parcel raises a separate issue. “That’s a finger lot,” Pierce said. “It’s not permissible under the town ordinance.”
Dresden regulations were “specifically written” to leave 150 feet between gravel pits and neighbors “because we’ve had a lot of problems with pits in this area,” Pierce said.
The town has required one gravel pit owner to fill in a pit and another to partially fill a pit and make changes to an access road as a result of issues similar to those in Condon’s case, according to Pierce.
Condon said he was not attempting to circumvent the ordinance, but Pierce declined to consider the matter further before the board consults town attorney Eliot Field, of Wiscasset.
“Sorry to put you on hold, but until we have that, I’m not willing to go any further,” Pierce said. “I’m not an attorney and neither is anyone on the board.”
The board will ask the attorney to specifically address whether Condon’s actions constitute an attempt to circumvent town regulations and whether Krechkin’s 5-foot-wide parcels constitute finger lots in violation of town regulations.
Pierce also returned a $625 check Condon had given the board at the beginning of the meeting to cover a fine the board assessed Sept. 1 for Condon’s violation of a stop-work order.
Condon has denied violating the stop-work order, but agreed at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting to pay the fine in order to move the process forward.
“I’m going to return your check because you’re going to have a dispute on this,” Pierce said.
Condon asked Pierce if he could cut wood on the property while a stop-work order remains in effect. Pierce said he would consult Dresden Code Enforcement Officer James Valley.
“My recollection of a stop-work order (is it) means stop all work, because the purpose of cutting wood up there is to make a gravel pit,” Pierce said. “I would say it probably won’t fly, because that’s the purpose of cutting wood.”
Valley issued Condon a stop-work order Aug. 24 after Ludwig Road residents complained about Condon’s use of the pit without a permit. Condon subsequently and repeatedly violated the order, according to Valley.
In addition to the board’s concerns, Condon faces vocal opposition from Ludwig Road residents.
Neighbors have expressed concerns about damage to the road and safety issues due to the condition and width of the dirt road as well as the speed and weight of the gravel trucks.