The view upriver from the location of a proposed pier on the Penobscot River. The pier would be used by  Bowden Point Properties, a Virginia-owned company, to load barges with processed granite taken from Heagan Mountain in Prospect. Credit: Courtesy of Maine Department of Environmental Protection

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has again rejected a Virginia-based company’s applications to build a pier and granite crushing facility on the Penobscot River in Prospect.

But last week’s decision by the Maine DEP has not come as much of a relief to the community members who sharply oppose the construction of the facility on environmental and other grounds.

In January, department officials found a dozen problems with the applications for two key environmental permits sought by Salmons Inc. of Virginia Beach, Virginia. On the most recent applications, there was only one issue.

Before the department can begin a substantive review of the applications, Salmons must submit a visual impact statement for the proposed pier and building, according to a letter sent on Thursday, March 17 by Jessica M. Damon of the Maine DEP.

To Peter Shoults, who owns a home on Bowden Point in Prospect, it sounds as if things are moving forward for Salmons Inc. That’s not something he’s excited about.

“My guess is that they’re going to be submitting a third application pretty quick,” he said Monday. “This project has so many negatives in so many different areas… Why would you do something to damage the essence of what is here?”

Map of Bowden Point, with Heagan Mountain and a proposed pier where granite quarried from the mountain would be loaded onto barges. Credit: Courtesy of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection

Bowden Point Properties, a subsidiary of Salmons Inc., wants to build an 80,000-square-foot rock processing building off Bowden Point Road. The building would be larger than a football field, and the associated 710-foot-long pier would extend into the Penobscot River.

The pier, as long as two football fields, would include a drivable trestle, a series of cofferdams and a telescopic barge loader to load vessels with processed granite.

It’s all part of a $12 million plan to quarry granite from nearby Heagan Mountain, crush it and then barge the processed rock from Prospect to Virginia.

In January, Salmons Inc. said that its operations would be in full compliance with environmental regulations and best practices.

But some residents of Prospect and nearby communities disagree. On the website for the newly-formed opposition group, Save Heagan  Mountain, opponents state they believe the project would set a “devastating precedent for every coastal community in Maine.”

Among other concerns, they feel the project will disrupt quiet residential and agricultural areas, diminish air and water quality, use more groundwater than can be replenished and stir up mercury-contaminated sediments in the Penobscot River.

In the past, Heagan Mountain had been quarried for granite on a small scale, but there has been no significant blasting on the site for at least 50 years.

Once officials from the Maine DEP determine that the permit applications are complete, the clock begins ticking and the public has 20 days to request a hearing.