Whitefield voters adopted new standards for mineral extraction in town, approving amendments to the town’s development ordinance 559 votes to 451 in polling Nov. 4.
The amendments address the development ordinance’s scarcity of specific, measurable standards for mineral extraction.
Late last year, the prospect of excavation below the water table in the Crooker pit, an activity that would penetrate a significant aquifer and create what planning board Chair Jim Torbert called “a big stagnant pond,” prompted a moratorium on gravel pit expansion. A 180-day moratorium was approved at town meeting last March and later extended.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Torbert said, if adopted, the board would have to develop protocols for the town’s code enforcement officer to follow for going into gravel pit.
Because Whitefield’s CEO is not presently being paid to do such inspections, the extra cost is included as part of the application fee.
“We’re not trying to stop gravel extraction, but we want to make it so the town is left with some resource,” Torbert said. There is “tremendous value” in more than just gravel in such geological formations, he said, referring to potentially marketable water that both the town and a private enterprise could profit from.