A map of Crooker’s proposed changes, which would rezone over 210 acres of residential and commercial land to industrial and limited industrial. Image contributed by Topsham Select Board

The Topsham Planning Board will hold a public hearing Feb. 23 on a zoning change request from Crooker Construction, a proposal that has drawn the ire of locals who have resisted similar plans for more than four years.

At the hearing, which could be a precursor to a townwide vote later this year, Crooker will present its plan to move its asphalt batch plant from Lewiston Road to a separate property near the company’s rock quarry on River Road.

“I suggest that anyone who is opposed wait to hear what Crooker Construction is proposing for development,” said Andrew Sturgeon, vice chairperson of Topsham Development, Inc. and brother of Crooker CEO Tom Sturgeon, during a Select Board meeting last month. “We do not want or believe the zoning change request should be Crooker against the neighborhood.”

If approved, the changes would rezone over 210 residential and commercial acres in western Topsham to industrial and limited industrial zones.

While Crooker has not released specific elements of its plan yet, Sturgeon said the move could be an economic boon to Topsham. He cited the town’s 2019 Comprehensive Plan update and a recent market analysis of the Topsham’s economic corridors, both of which highlighted Crooker’s current site as a strong candidate for redevelopment into a mixed-use district.

But residents, many of whom fought against similar zoning change requests from Crooker in 2018 and 2020, continue to oppose plans to bring an industrial site into residential areas.


“We expect there to be light pollution, air pollution, groundwater contamination and just about every kind of environmental impact that you can imagine from having an asphalt manufacturing plant nearby,” said Ivanhoe neighborhood resident Robin Brooks. “It’s going to change the character of … that whole part of town, and none of it is aligned with the land-use policy in the comprehensive plan for this area of Topsham, which does not recommend expanding the industrial zone or adding a new industrial zone.”

More than 15 residents voiced opposition to the zoning change during the public comment period of the Select Board’s Dec. 15 meeting. Several complained that Crooker’s existing plant already produces bothersome dust, odor and noise pollution.

Despite the public’s concerns, board Chairperson David Douglass argued a “no” vote would amount to tabling the issue, prolonging the uncertainty the business and affected neighborhoods have been living with for nearly five years.

“If we said, tonight, we’re not moving it forward, this issue just hides in a closet again until somebody else chooses to bring it up,” he said. “If we work through our process and we have a final vote and it’s rejected, it is in my opinion that this process is completely dead, and Crooker is done with this idea.”

The board voted 3-1 to send the matter to a Feb. 23 public hearing with the Planning Board at 6:30 p.m. at Mt. Ararat High School. After the hearing, the Select Board will likely hold its own public hearing before deciding whether to move the issue to a town vote at Topsham’s Town Meeting on May 30 or a referendum in June.

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