CUMBERLAND — The Town Council on Monday unanimously approved moving the town’s compost and brush operations, and its sand and salt sheds.

Long located at the Public Works garage on Drowne Road, the uses have drawn complaints from residents of the neighboring Village Green development.

The compost and brush pad will be moved to a vacant town-owned parcel 1,500 feet off Tuttle Road and next to the Town Forest. The council unanimously approved the move, which would occur by Dec. 1.

The sand and salt operations would be housed in one building on a 1.5-acre site to the rear of Storey Brothers, about 1,000 feet back from 215 Middle Road. The town would acquire the land by swapping for an 8-acre gravel pit on Goose Pond Road.

Construction, at a cost of $300,000-$400,000, could begin and be completed next spring.

Councilor Shirley Storey-King abstained from the discussion because she is the brothers’ cousin, but noted she has no business dealings with them. Other councilors unanimously approved the move.

The town’s agreement with the Storeys is contingent on all necessary state and federal permits being received. The project must also go before the Planning Board.

Dump decisions

The council’s decisions are the culmination of several years of discussions about moving all or some of Public Works. Town officials have explored nearly 20 sites, including a parcel on Skillins Road, a vacant area north of Cumberland Fairgrounds, and town-owned lands on Greely Road and next to the Town Forest.

John Leavitt of Greely Road said he thought the council’s vote to move the brush and compost pad to the Tuttle Road site “will be problematic,” since the agenda item only mentioned closing down the dump, and not anything about moving it to a new location.

“People who would have input concerning that site had no knowledge that that vote was going to occur tonight,” Leavitt said.

Town Manager Bill Shane on Tuesday said notice was sent to the four direct abutters of the Tuttle Road parcel in advance of the initial June 3 public hearing on the matter, and that the agenda materials related to Monday’s item, available online, detail the proposed move.

“The actual process of how it gets developed is going to be through the Planning Board. That’s when the formal notification of the land use will occur, and people will have plenty of time to give their input,” Shane said.

The nearest abutter is Rob Verrier of Tuttle Road, whose home is about 500 feet away, Shane said.

Verrier did not speak Monday, but told councilors June 3 the parcel has value for the town – whether kept as open space or developed into some manner of housing – and is not appropriate for a dump. A berm is to be built along the property line.

Residents of the Village Green development, built earlier this decade near Public Works, have said they moved there expecting the town garage and affiliated operations – which they call offensive to their eyes, ears and noses – would be moved, and additional housing and public amenities built in their place.

But high levels of methane gas at a closed-out demolition landfill near the garage led the town to scrap plans to move the entire facility, which prevents additional housing from being built in its place.

The town’s ability to maintain its composting operations at the current site has also been in question. The town, which received its most recent Maine Department of Environmental Protection license for those operations in 2017, has been out of compliance and working to reduce on site piles to regain compliance, Shane said earlier this month.

DEP sets a guideline of 1,000 cubic yards for compost and brush dumps, but the volume of those materials and the presence of manure are both outside the current license parameters, the manager said. The town has eliminated manure, stopped accepting anything but yard waste, and plans by the end of the month to remove 1,000 cubic yards of finished compost in order to operate within its license parameters, he added.

Although Monday’s public hearing agenda item on the brush and composting facility mentioned closing the operations, Katherine Pelletreau of Drowne Road – one of several Village Green residents among a packed audience to speak – said her neighbors had no desire to permanently shut them down.

“Our issue has always been with this particular site, which is not appropriate for this kind of dump use,” she noted. “… We want this site closed immediately.”

She added that if the community supported another site elsewhere in town, “fine, go for it; that is not our issue.”

Shane said he approached the neighboring towns of Falmouth and Yarmouth about sending Cumberland residents to their facilities. Both are too busy to take on additional traffic, leaving Riverside Recycling in Portland as an option that did not sit warmly with some speakers Monday.

Bill Plouffe of Wyman Way called composting “a great thing,” pointing to the convenience of having a place in town to bring brush. “But before we do that we need to get the site right, we need to get the required DEP permits, and we need to operate the site in accordance with those permits,” he added.

The cost of developing the road, pad and permitting could be nearly $225,000, Shane said. That expense is to be covered by the town’s sale of 25.7 acres of land at the former Springbrook Farm on Greely Road – now part of the Twin Brook Recreation area – to Jeff Storey, who now operates the farm’s remaining land.

The Town Council is to vote on that $225,000 sale July 8. A perpetual farming easement would be placed on the property.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

For the second meeting in a row this month, Cumberland residents packed Town Council Chambers Monday to weigh in on the future of the town’s compost and brush operations. Town Manager Bill Shane started off the discussion.

The new location of Cumberland’s compost and brush operations would be on town-owned land 1,500 feet off Tuttle Road, by the Town Forest and a railroad line. The existing facilities are at far left, where the Public Works garage is located along Drowne Road.


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