WINDHAM — Residents in the Forest Lake area of Windham and Cumberland packed a Windham Town Council workshop last week and expressed concern about a proposed quarry project within the watershed.

“They call it ‘Vacationland’ for a reason,” said Michael Manning, who lives on Bruschi Road near the lake. “Not Quarryland.”

The April 3 council meeting followed a Windham Planning Board meeting where representatives of the owners of the potential quarry presented an initial sketch plan.

According to a memo from Town Planner Amanda Lessard, the project would involve mineral extraction on 106 acres off of Lakeside Drive. The project would involve seven total lots encompassing about 151 acres, and the land would be quarried in phases.

Approximate location of proposed 151-acre quarry site (shown in orange). Staff graphic with Google photo

Patrick Coughlin, director of engineering for the Westbrook firm St. Germain Collins, represented Copp Equipment before the Planning Board. He said his clients, listed in application documents as Elvin and Randall Copp, “want to be good neighbors in the area, and develop it responsibly.”

Residents who spoke before the council last week appeared doubtful that the proposed quarry would be a good addition to the Forest Lake community. Concerns ranged from the quarry’s potential impact on lake water and residential groundwater quality to increased traffic from large trucks and air quality issues from the effects of blasting at the quarry.

Dr. Stephanie Copp, who lives near the lake in Cumberland and said she is related to the owners of the potential quarry, sent a letter with her husband to the Windham council outlining several concerns about the project, including potential impacts on her home’s foundation and water.

“I am simply expressing my concerns, so that a plan may be developed harmoniously in the best interests of both the developer and the Forest Lake community,” Copp said after her letter was read at the meeting. “I believe it is possible to reach a common-ground solution, and I ask you all to keep an open mind.

“Please take into consideration that the entire Copp family does not share the same view on this,” she said.

Of the five councilors present last week, four of them indicated various levels of sympathy or understanding for the residents and their concerns.

“If it was my will, I’d say it ought not to pass because of what it’s going to do to your area,” council Chairwoman Donna Chapman said of the project. “I do believe blasting up there is going to impact your water quality and the groundwater.”

Councilor Timothy Nangle said he felt the quarry “just doesn’t belong there” and wondered if there could be a town moratorium on mineral extraction permits.

“I’m not sure exactly where we stand on that as far as the council is concerned. The last I knew, the Planning Board did have that decision as far as ordinances to look at,” said Council Vice Chairman Robert Muir, who called it a “very sobering night” listening to the residents’ concerns.

Planning Board Chairman David Douglass cautioned people that the board’s role is mostly limited to reviewing projects and working with town staff to determine whether plans conform to existing ordinances. Douglass also warned the applicant that he is “very, very, very concerned” for the people in the audience, “probably more so than almost any project,” and what the quarry could mean for them.

“While this is allowed and it’s probably very good for the commerce of the town and very good for the owner and good for development, this is potentially very bad for a few specific people,”Douglass said. “And that is really, really important and that is not lost on us.”

In an email, Coughlin said for his clients that the quarry would be “protective of the environment (surface and groundwater, air quality, etc.), safe for workers’ and neighbors’ health, and will meet town and state standards for traffic, noise and blasting.”

He said the developers have heard the local concerns and are trying to address them in their application to the town.

“We have reached out to the local community groups (Lake and Road associations) inviting them to take part in a public forum to discuss their concerns,” Coughlin said. “We are working with the groups to determine when that meeting will take place, likely in the next week.”

Coughlin said quarry operations would begin once all state and local requirements have been met and any necessary permits issued.

“We envision that initial operation could begin this summer,” he said.

Matt Junker can be contacted at 781-3661, ext. 123, or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @MattJunker

Read this story in the American Journal.


Correction: This story was revised at 1:21, April 9, 2018, to correctly spell the name of Planning Board Chairman David Douglass.

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