ROCKLAND, Maine — Signs depicting frowny faces are popping up in a residential neighborhood where a new owner has undertaken a massive project that involves tree cutting, leveling of about 20 acres and the pumping of huge volumes of water from a former limestone quarry.
“This was a fabulous street. It was tranquil and had privacy,” said Cedar Street resident Jesse Henry, who lives next to the property where work is being done.
Henry said he is at a loss for words concerning the impact the massive project has had on the neighborhood. He said construction equipment has been working all day and some nights on the residential lot since early March.
“It’s like we’re living next to the Big Dig,” Henry said, referring to a controversial major roadway and tunnel project that went on for years in Boston.
Before the trees were cut and the land leveled, Henry said, Cedar Street was shielded from the noise and lights of heavily traveled Route 17. Now, he said, the traffic noises can be heard and headlights shine into homes.
The property at issue is two abutting lots — totaling about 20 acres — purchased in 2014 and 2015 by Michael Mullins of Boston. One of the lots includes an eight-room home built in 1980.
Assistant Rockland Code Enforcement Officer William Butler said Monday he has received about a half dozen calls with questions and concerns about the project, but the work does not violate any land-use ordinance and needs no permits from the city or state.
Water from the quarry was tested and met the requirements for swimming. The water is being pumped from the former Crockett Quarry on Mullins’ property to Lindsey Brook, which runs along Cedar Street. The contractor working on the project has set up rocks and hay to filter the water entering the city’s Lindsey Brook system, Butler said.
The pumping of the quarry began about April 29. The city received a complaint a few days ago from a resident located about a mile downstream about the brook overflowing on her property. Butler said the contractor responded and found a large, dead raccoon was stuck in the brook by the woman’s home. The raccoon apparently was causing a blockage that was rerouting water onto the woman’s land. Once the raccoon was removed, the water subsided, he said
Code Officer John Root said the contractor also agreed to the city’s request to reduce the flow of water being pumped to prevent overflows downstream.
The quarry is being pumped so that the contractor can put riprap along the south and west sides of the quarry to prevent erosion, Butler said.
In the end, Mullins wants to rent out the property and to allow the tenants to have a beach and use the quarry for swimming. Mullins also plans to stock the quarry with brook trout, Butler said.
The quarry previously was filled with groundwater and rain in about equal proportions, Butler said.
Not all neighbors are concerned about the project. Ronald Bickford, who has lived with his wife across the street from the entrance to the property since 1980, said his father worked in the quarry until it closed around 1950.
Bickford agreed that the work has dramatically changed the landscape, but added that over the years there have been many plans for the property that could have been more disruptive, including a mobile home park. The city rezoned the neighborhood 30 years ago to prevent any mobile home park from being developed after that possibility arose.
Mullins, who is president of the Mullins Management Group, a Boston-based real estate development company, did not immediately respond Monday to an email request for comment.