Kingston: DENIED! Plympton Sand & Gravel Co. Mining Permit

  CLwpBS  Ancient Way

Victory! March 12, 2024: Kingston Selectboard denies “earth removal” permit for Plympton Sand & Gravel mine


  • Mining company asks for chance to redesign project and come back, Board says no, calls for a vote and denies the project 4-1, with 1 abstain

  • Kingston Water Commissioner’s oppose the project due to negative impact on drinking water wells

  • Expert Scott Horsley, hydrologist says “not necessary” to mine that deep, project can be built with less impact to environment; says not a “sustainable” educational project as the mining company claims

  • Long time residents say why not buy cranberry bogs that are for sale in the town, instead of leveling this hill to allegedly create a new bog?

  • Cranberry industry not profitable, a dying industry says local residents, does this make sense?

  • Lifelong resident says claims about no truck traffic not true: there will be trucks on Brook Street and Elm Street from the company’s commercial sand and gravel facility where the material will be proceses

After months of hearings and two hydrology studies,  the Kingston Selectboard voted on March 12, 2024 to deny the application of Plympton Sand & Gravel for a mining permit. The project is for 1.1 million cubic yards of sand and gravel over at least 5 years– worth about $15 million worth. The company filed for the permit using an agricultural exemption from the Town’s earth removal bylaw – but no one fell for the ruse. The Town’s expert testified the earth removal was not “necessary” to build the bogs – a criteria to be met before a permit can be granted.Kingston Water Commissioners and their expert oppose the mining

Two hydrology studies say deny the permit, harm to Sole Source Aquifer and drinking water cited

 In a Jan. 9, 2024 letter to the Selectboard, the Water Commissioners urged them to deny the mining permit due to negative impacts on drinking water wells. At the March 12, 2024 hearing, Scott Horsley a world recognized hydrologist testified about private drinking water wells along Brook Street that could be impacted. Local residents also expressed concern.


Company tries to exploit agricultural exemption in Bylaw to get a permit, Town says no

Plympton Sand & Gravel made preposterous “agricultural” exemption claims to try get this permit–that the mining is for an “organic” cranberry bog to educate special needs students.  In the last decade, the acres of cranberry bogs in the region has dropped by a quarter — but Plympton Sand & Gravel needs to level a hill to build new bogs? Who’s kidding who?

Massachusetts highest court ruled 30 years ago that mining operations like this do not qualify as “agriculture” when they don’t meet the legal test of being a minor and “incidental” land use.  The cases of Henry v. Board of Appeals of Dunstable and  Old Colony Council-Boy Scouts of America v. Zoning Board of Appeals, a Plymouth cranberry bog case, set the standard.

Site of Plympton Sand & Gravel proposed strip mine, Indian Pond, Kingston MA, June 2022


Skirting the wetlands laws, state sides with mining company in legal appeal

Mining companies are adept at skirting the wetlands laws in Southeastern Massachusetts. In typical move, Plympton Sand & Gravel applied to Kingston for a wetlands “Request for Determination of Applicability” in 2022 claiming they had no plans to develop the site but only wanted to get a ruling on the wetlands locations.  The mining company’s engineer, G.A.F. Engineering wrote in the wetlands application “no project is proposed at this time.” In the meantime, the mining company was shopping around the plan for the bogs in order to evade the bylaws and get a mining permit under the agricultural exemption.  When the Conservation Commission granted the wetlands approvals but put on conditions, Plymouth Sand & Gravel sued the Town and appealed the state wetlands permit to MassDEP. The MassDEP always sides with the sand mining industry and overturned the Town’s permit issued under the state law. The Town Wetlands Bylaw is stronger than state law; mining company must present plans to Conservation Commission if it plans to go ahead with the mining operation. 


G.A.F. Engineering Plan To Accompany Request for Determination of Applicability to Kingston Conservation Commission, June 8, 2022: E

Questionable land deal

This land was supposed to be offered by Sysco to Plympton & Kingston as mitigation for its warehouse before it could be sold to developers; how did Plympton Sand & Gravel evade that?

A shell corporation along with the sand and gravel industry consultant GAF Engineering/Bill Madden started the permitting process in 2022 for 35 acres of strip mining on Indian Pond in Kingston. This land is mostly pristine uplands and wetlands on the Pond.


Who is P.K. Realty Trust, anyway? Filings with the state show corporations with this name based in Malden and Southbridge. What is their relation to the alleged cranberry bog?


There is a “cart path” on the site. Often these are trails were used by Wampanoag Indigenous people from time immemorial. They should not be destroyed recklessly.


Photo above: Where Pines Once Grew: Sand and gravel site, Plympton MA, 2021

July 25, 2022 letter from Community Land & Water Coalition to Kingston Board of Selectmen


The Wetlands Protection Act and Wetlands Bylaw RDA is here.

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