Maine environmental regulators won’t consider applications for the Prospect granite project

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Applications by a Virginia company to build a granite pier and crushing facility on the Penobscot River in Prospect have been denied, at least for now, by the Department of Environmental Protection of Maine.

The company, Bowden Point Properties, is applying to state regulators for key permits to construct an 80,000 square foot rock processing building off Bowden Point Road – a building larger than a football field – and a 710 foot jetty that will extend into the Penobscot River.

The jetty would include a steerable trestle, a series of cofferdams and a telescopic barge loader to load ships with processed granite.

It’s all part of a $12 million plan to mine granite from nearby Heagan Mountain, crush it and then transport the processed rock from Prospect to Virginia, a proposal that has drawn fierce local opposition.

But officials found a dozen flaws in the applications that need to be fixed before regulators can review them, according to a letter sent this week to the Bangor Environmental Engineering Firm that works with the Virginia-owned company.

The company must in particular show that it has enough money to finance the project, include more information on why transporting granite by land is not an option and explain why the pier must be so long.

Kathleen Jenkins, chair of the Prospect Planning Board, said she was pleased Licensing Manager Jessica Damon of the Maine DEP reviewed the applications so carefully. The applications related to development site location and Natural Resources Protection Act permits, essential for the construction of the 50-acre ore processing facility and associated jetty.

“I was impressed with the thoroughness of the DEP exam,” she says. “I’m reassured that it just 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 were not mentioned in the 12 deficiency areas, including groundwater use and air quality. The company plans to drill at least one well and use 50,000 gallons of groundwater per day in its rock crushing facility, depending on demand.

“Obviously there are still a lot of topics in the app that will need attention,” she said.

According to the letter from the Maine DEP, Bowden Point Properties can refile its application once it corrects the deficiencies.

“The thorough review of your application will begin at that time,” the letter reads.

Earlier this week, Salmons Inc. of Virginia Beach, Va., the parent company of Bowden Point Properties, said its operations would be in full compliance with environmental regulations and best practices.

But John Hyk, who lives in Bowden Point, said many community members simply feel the project doesn’t belong in their mountain or town.

“It’s the wrong idea in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

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