SANFORD — A gravel pit on Bernier Road that prompted consternation in the neighborhood will go forward, albeit with concessions designed to quell community concerns.

R. Pepin & Sons wants to mine 300,000 cubic feet of gravel on property owned by John Rivard. The company will not operate the gravel pit between June 1 and Labor Day, operate on weekends, or screen or crush gravel on site as part of the agreement reached with the city and neighbors.

It has also agreed to operate with fewer trucks than what was previously proposed, and its truck drivers will reduce their speed from 25 mph to 15 mph whenever a pedestrian, bicyclist or school bus is around.

Those conditions and a slew of others – 22 in all – resulted in a 5-1 vote of approval by Planning Board members on Wednesday. The meeting was the last of several, including two public hearings, that drew considerable opposition from neighbors.

“We really wanted to work with the community,” said Matthew Pepin of R. Pepin & Sons. “Once we realized there were concerns, we met with the neighbors.

“We really listened to them. We really put in the most effort we could to make concessions and make it a project that could work for everyone.”

Gravel pits may be located in the district as a conditional use. There is another pit currently operating there, but that entity uses a direct private road to Route 4, which is not available to the Pepin operation, leaving Bernier Road as the only option.

Neighbors and summer visitors expressed concerns ranging from dust and noise to potential safety hazards posed by gravel trucks, particularly as children walk the road to the school bus stop at the intersection of Bernier and New Dam roads. There are no sidewalks, and no shoulder.

That issue was solved as well – the Sanford School Department has agreed to pick up students door-todoor on Bernier Road, using the campground parking lot as a turnaround.

Some of the conditions came as a result of a sitdown between one of the proposal’s harshest critics, David Houle, and company owner David Pepin. Houle and his wife Denise manage Apache Campground for Denise’s parents, Gerard and Rita Bernier, on Bernier Road.

Houle said Thursday that some who oppose the gravel pit felt he “sold out,” but he believed the proposal was headed for approval by the Planning Board, so he sat down with Pepin to try and find some common ground.

“We came up with some concessions. David agreed to them, and he had some good ideas,” said Houle.

Houle specifically noted some of the concessions, such as agreeing not to process gravel on site and closing for three months during the summer.

“I commend David for that,” said Houle.

Among other conditions of approval are a 100-foot buffer between the pit, the closest residential neighbor and Hay Brook; payment of performance guarantees associated with repairs to Bernier Road; and limits on the number of trucks and trips a day.

The conditions will be reviewed after two years; the gravel extraction permit is for five years.

Matthew Pepin said approval of the proposal helped keep the 45 employees of the 60-year-old company working, and is essential for company growth. The gravel pit is close to home at a time when companies generally have to go farther afield for resources, he said.

Houle said he’s glad they could come to terms.

“My sleepless nights are over,” he said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]


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