THE NEW MINING ORDINANCE:
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

Adopted March 23, 2002 by the Washington Town Meeting

This ordinance was drafted by a committee of average citizens, working at your request. It contains a lot of technical detail, with good reason: mining operators, citizens and town officials all benefit when the law is precise about what is allowed. The committee urges you to become familiar with the details of this ordinance. But here are some key points you'll definitely want to know about:

  1. The ordinance does not prohibit or in any way regulate earth moving for agriculture, gardening or construction.
  2. Sand and gravel mines are not restricted in size or volume, and very small pits (under 5,000 square feet) require no permit at all.
  3. Mining operations must pass annual inspections.
  4. A standing citizen's committee will be created to hear comments about this ordinance and to make suggestions for changes.

    For new permits:

  5. Mining permits will no longer run with the land. They may be renewed, however, after a maximum of 21 years. There is no limit on the number of renewals, provided the operation meets existing codes at the time of renewal and has fulfilled all of the terms of the original permit.
  6. Setbacks and buffers are established to maintain the town's quiet rural character and to protect surface and ground water. In many cases these reasonable limits can be reduced with a neighbor's permission.
  7. Noise limits, rated by decibel level, are codified.
  8. Hours of operation are restricted to reasonable daylight periods, and prohibited on Sundays and six major holidays.
  9. Operators must provide guarantees to ensure reclamation. Small- and medium-sized operators can propose alternatives.
  10. Ledge removal (typically referred to as quarrying) is limited to small operations. And deep quarrying is prohibited entirely.
  11. Large-scale flat-rock mining (typically for landscape rocks, a growing business) is also limited, with one key exception: there is no volume restriction for operators who remove rocks from the surface of largely wooded lots.

This ordinance was decided by public vote at the March 23, 2002 Annual Town Meeting!
The vote was 172 YES to 119 NO done by secret ballot.

Take a look at the new Mining Ordinance
Meet the Committee


Send us your comments.