RON COLBY has lived in the Pejepscot Village neighborhood for most of his life. He’s concerned what Crooker Construction’s proposed rezoning project will bring for neighbors. “That’s just all we need is another industrial area up here,” Colby said. “The pit’s up here, but I mean they drive slow. To add the plant, I don’t see how that won’t create noise.” CHRIS QUATTRUCCI / THE TIMES RECORD

RON COLBY has lived in the Pejepscot Village neighborhood for most of his life. He’s concerned what Crooker Construction’s proposed rezoning project will bring for neighbors. “That’s just all we need is another industrial area up here,” Colby said. “The pit’s up here, but I mean they drive slow. To add the plant, I don’t see how that won’t create noise.” CHRIS QUATTRUCCI / THE TIMES RECORD

TOPSHAM

Ron Colby, who has lived in the Pejepscot Village neighborhood for most of his life, said he’s not bothered by trucks on River Road heading to the quarry, or from Grimmel’s Industries passing on his road.

What worries him, however, is a proposal by Crooker Construction to move some of its operations to the residential neighborhood.

“That’s just all we need is another industrial area up here,” Colby said. “The pit’s up here, but I mean they drive slow. To add the plant, I don’t see how that won’t create noise.”

Crooker wants to relocate its batch plant — the equipment it uses to combine the ingredients that make its concrete — on land the company owns between River Road and Route 1996. Crooker would also build a road between the plant and the company’s quarry, located south of River Road and Pejepscot Village. It would add an entrance to the facility on Route 196, and potentially a lighted intersection or rotary.

Crooker wants that residential parcel rezoned to allow for its operations.

“I realize that we’ve been presenting what we think is the best plan,” said Crooker’s Environmental Coordinator Mike Abbott last week during a presentation before the planning board. “We haven’t really spent a lot of time going through how we got to that.”

Residents who live near the site have a different view, and are worried about increased noise and traffic, and decreased property values.

“If that span for them is changed to an industrial zone, and they start moving that quarry closer to River Road, they may as well start buying all of the real estate properties in the area,” said River Road resident Scott Keiffer.

Colby said he would like to company to more seriously consider its other options, particularly one that would see the plant move to Crooker’s Jack’s Pit location in Pejepscot. That plan wouldn’t create the efficiency the company is looking for — quarry rock would still have to be trucked up River Road to Route 196, where the plant entrance would be. However, that plan would not require a zoning change.

A second alternative would move the plant to property on the south side of River Road, close to the quarry, in an industrial zone. That proposal would require an increase of truck traffic on River Road and put the plant within 500 feet of the nearest residence, according to the company.

The third alternative would be for Crooker to acquire land to connect the plant and quarry.

Colby, who deals with Route 196 traffic daily, questions the company’s proposed solutions for handling traffic concerns.

“It seems like this couldn’t be done without some sort of study,” Colby said. “It’s not so much the efficiency of the hauling as it is the convenience I think.”

At the meeting, Abbott said Crooker was trying to reduce or eliminate its River Road traffic while improving its operations. Crooker currently hauls rock between the quarry and current plant location a 103 Lewiston Road (Route 196).

“We want to increase the efficiency of our operation to eliminate the long transport we have now from our source area to our paving plant,” said Abbott. “The cost associated with that is a major inefficiency in our operation.”

And Ted Crooker noted his company has created jobs in the community.

“What we are trying to do is keep 250 jobs in this community,” he said, “and we’re trying to move it along as speedily as we can because each year that goes by we’re being eaten up by the bigger paving people of the world.

“This is cost effective,” Crooker added, “and it will be not only good for us but it will be good for the town of Topsham.”

Despite talk of other options, Crooker is ready to move forward with its initial proposal to have the property rezoned.

Residents aren’t giving up hope that the company could be encouraged to reconsider its other options — one that wouldn’t result in the plant moving to their neighborhood. To that end, they’ve formed the Friends of Pejepscot Village and Pejepscot group in order to advocate for more public input before a decision is made.

Colby can understand Crooker’s need, but would like to see them reconsider the options.

“The reality for us that live there is not so good,” said Colby. “We’re just worried about industrial zones in a residential area. If you have a batch plant in back of residential buildings, it’s better for Crooker — but what about us?”

Planning board members stressed last week’s workshop was just the initial part of the process.

“We’re not going to tell you how we would vote on it because we don’t have a final proposal before us,” board member Peter Richard told Crooker representatives. “It comes down to whether you feel like you’ve talked to enough residents, collected enough data and done enough research to put together a final proposal.”

Crooker will have to submit a formal proposal to the board and selectmen, and public hearings will be a part of that process. Chairman Don Spann said the change could eventually be up to residents at a Town Meeting.

“Whether it does or doesn’t get passed is up to the town and up to you,” he said.

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