January 18, 2022

Hancock to act on blast complaints > Noise from mine in rural zone upsets residents

HANCOCK — The fate of complaints about a contractor mining in the town’s rural undeveloped zone won’t be decided until next week.

The town’s selectmen had agreed earlier this month to take action this week on seven complaints filed with the town after a particularly strong blast rattled homes Nov. 18.

But the board has postponed any action until Wednesday because the town attorney has yet to issue a legal opinion on the town’s options concerning the blast and the four complaints that resulted from it.

The blasting is governed by the town’s mineral extraction ordinance, which mandates that blasting in the undeveloped zone cannot cause damage or undue disturbance to neighboring homes and property.

At a Dec. 15 special meeting of selectmen to hear complaints about the blast, residents near the blast area spoke about damage and disturbances that ranged from heavy shaking and jostling of items in homes to the structural damage to one resident’s chimney.

Officials from the contractor, Harold MacQuinn Inc., admitted that the Nov. 18 blast was particularly large, but said it was necessary to remove a dangerous rock outcropping in the quarry. They also said that subsequent blasts would be smaller and would be located in areas of the quarry that would direct blast energy away from homeowners.

The amount of explosive materials used in blasts at the quarry has steadily increased over the past few months. Since mid-October, the total amount of explosives has increased from 4,455 pounds to 15,938 pounds per blast.

After public comments, the board agreed to postpone any decision until it receives the opinion of the town attorney.

But at least one board member said she believes the Nov. 18 blast may have violated the ordinance. Linda King, board chair, said it appears that disturbances had been made to neighbors and that the blast violated the terms of the ordinance.

The board will address the issue at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 5, at the Hancock Town Office.

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