Searsport tank deliberations

Board unanimously denies DCP tank application

By Tanya Mitchell and Dan West | Apr 04, 2013

Searsport — The Searsport Planning Board officially denied the application from a Colorado company that had hoped to build a 22.7-million-gallon liquefied petroleum gas tank and terminal at Mack Point Thursday night, April 4.

That unanimous decision followed the April 2 announcement from the applicant, DCP Midstream, announcing the company was withdrawing its application for the project.

Following Thursday's decision, Planning Board Chairman Bruce Probert said the Board made the right move by deciding to continue with the application review.

"We wanted to do it right; we've been trying to do it right all along," he said.

Despite the company's move to withdraw the application, the Board opted to reject the withdrawal and instead finish up what had been a lengthy public hearing and application review process. The Board made that decision on the advice of the Board attorney Kristin Collins during its deliberations on the application Wednesday night, April 3.

At that time Collins explained that the town did not have an ordinance governing the withdrawal of an application while it is being reviewed. If the Board had simply accepted the withdrawal, DCP could return with an application for the same or a very similar project and it would have to be reviewed again, Collins said.

Collins said she asked the DCP attorneys if they would allow the Board to discharge the application with prejudice, which would prohibit the company from reapplying for the project. The DCP attorneys had not given her an answer by the time the Board met.

The Board decided that continuing the review and coming to an official decision was the best course of action, considering that they were so far along in the process.

While DCP spokeswoman Roz Elliott has said the company has no plans to reapply for the project, nor to apply for any new projects in Maine, Collins recommended completing the review process to eliminate that possibility, in case the Board voted to deny the application.

Probert said since the Board voted to deny the application, it had sent a letter dated April 5 to company representatives and DCP attorney Kelly Boden informing the company of the Board's decision.

Probert said the Board would meet once more Wednesday, April 17, to finalize a formal letter that would explain the decision to deny the application in greater detail. That meeting, Probert said, should take about 20 minutes and is intended to "cross the t's and dot the i's."

The project review was a time-consuming process for all members of the Board, said Probert, who noted he spent nearly every morning in the Town Office in an effort to stay informed about the volumes of correspondence that the proposal brought with it. The stack of paper the Board had to consider as part of the review, said Probert, measured in excess of 30 inches tall.

Considering a proposal that was so large in size and scope appeared to be a daunting task, but Probert said once the Board moved into the process, sought advice from Collins and used town ordinances as a guide for considering the application, it wasn't so difficult when it came time to make the decision.

"The votes were all unanimous. It was pretty easy and pretty clear-cut," said Probert.

Probert said it's been nice for the Board to begin moving forward in the aftermath of such a lengthy process. At its regular meeting Monday night, April 8, Probert said, the Board conducted its business in about an hour and members were in good enough spirits to joke around a bit. One person who was in attendance told Probert after the meeting it was nice to see members of the board smiling and laughing again.

And Probert said his wife, Kendra, was also very pleased to see the Board return to a more business-as-usual pace.

"She said it's nice to have her husband back," Probert said.

Comments (2)
Posted by: David N. Berg | Apr 07, 2013 11:01

I want to thank the Searsport Planning Board, for their dedication, integrity, and perseverance as they acted to protect the citizens of Searsport in their charge.  They adhered to confidentiality during the process until the final vote and although a daunting task, they did it with professionalism and at times, thanks to Bruce Probert, with a bit of comic relief to ease the tensions.



Posted by: Jeanine E Tucker | Apr 05, 2013 08:56

I think the public needs a better understanding of what this Board is obligated to do and the processes they must undergo as part of the oath they took to serve the citizens of their community. I have seen and heard a lot of driticism against both sides, but have not been witness to one person explaining exactly why or how and under what guidelines this Board has to deliberate. Residents can be pro or con it doesn't matter. The Planning Board cannot be held accountable for whatever the end result may be, they are merely reporting on criteria required within the ordinance passed by the community it is sworn to represent. I commend them for for all they have endured and for not speaking out as if they need to defend themselves.

 



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