Maine environmental regulators won’t consider applications for Prospect granite project
A Virginia company’s applications to build a pier and granite-crushing facility on the Penobscot River in Prospect have been rejected, at least for the time being, by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
The company, Bowden Point Properties, is asking state regulators for key permits to build an 80,000 square foot rock processing building off Bowden Point Road — a building larger than a football field — and a 710-foot pier that will extend into the Penobscot River.
The pier would include a drivable trestle, a series of cofferdams and a telescopic barge loader to load vessels with processed granite.
It’s all part of a $12 million plan to quarry granite from nearby Heagan Mountain, crush it and then barge the processed rock from Prospect to Virginia, a proposal that has stirred up sharp local opposition.
But officials found a dozen deficiencies in the applications which need to be addressed before regulators can consider them, according to a letter sent this week to the Bangor environmental engineering firm that is working with the Virginia-owned company.
Among the things the company has to do are show it has enough money to finance the project, include more information about why transporting granite by land isn’t an option and explain why the pier has to be so long.
Kathleen Jenkins, the chair of the Prospect Planning Board, said she was glad that Licensing Manager Jessica Damon of the Maine DEP went through the applications so carefully. The applications were for the Site Location of Development and Natural Resources Protection Act permits, key to the construction of the 50-acre mineral processing facility and associated pier.
“I was impressed with the thoroughness of the DEP’s review,” she said. “I do feel reassured that this simply wasn’t a checklist that the Maine DEP went through.”
Jenkins still has other questions she would like to ask about aspects of the proposal that weren’t mentioned in the 12 areas of deficiency, including groundwater use and air quality. The company is planning to drill at least one well and use 50,000 gallons of groundwater a day in its stone-crushing facility, according to the application.
“Obviously there are a lot of topics still in the application that are going to require attention,” she said.
According to the letter from the Maine DEP, Bowden Point Properties may refile its application once it corrects the deficiencies.
“Substantive review of your application will begin at that time,” the letter stated.
Earlier this week, Salmons Inc. of Virginia Beach, Virginia, the parent company of Bowden Point Properties, said that its operations would be in full compliance with environmental regulations and best practices.
But John Hyk, who lives on Bowden Point, said that many in the community simply feel that the project does not belong on their mountain or in their town.
“This is the wrong idea at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.