Tank could have negative effect on property values, tourism, says expert

Opponents question zoning of admin. building
By Dan West | Nov 29, 2012
Photo by: Tanya Mitchell

Searsport — Searsport residents and businesses could face a decline in property values, depending on their proximity to a proposed 22.7-million-gallon liquid propane gas (LPG) storage tank to be located at Mack Point, said a consultant hired by the town of Searsport.

Nancy Fannon of consulting firm Meyers, Harrison and Pia, LLC, presented her report at the third night of public hearings Wednesday, Nov. 28, on the application by DCP Searsport LLC to construct the large LPG tank.

Fannon's report relied on dozens of studies done on other large-scale industrial sites like landfills, wind farms and oil and gas storage facilities, as well as interviews with town employees.

The report found a correlation between the proximity of a property to an industrial site similar to the proposed tank and a decline in property value. A similar correlation was found for tourism-related businesses. Fannon noted that since the proposed tank was in an industrial zone that already contained a number of tanks, the effects would be incremental.

However, under questioning from Thanks But No Tank attorney Steve Hinchman, Fannon acknowledged — because of the 138-foot height of the tank and its visibility from Route 1 — it would have a greater incremental effect than a tank on the same scale as the ones currently in use at Mack Point. Those tanks are in the 40- to 60-foot range.

The effect on property values in the various studies ranged from a modest decline of 4 percent to as much as 40 percent, but Fannon said that there seemed to be biased results based on who commissioned the study — groups in favor of the projects produced more favorable results, while opponents showed more negative impacts.

"You can basically make these studies say anything you want them to, based on how they are designed," Fannon said.

One business that will be particularly affected by the construction of the tank is Angler's Restaurant and Bait's Motel, owned by Buddy Hall, who was represented at the meeting by Ed Bearer. The two businesses would be within 500 feet of the proposed tank site.

An assessor's review of the commercial and property value of the two businesses showed that they were worth around $900,000 together and would lose between 80 and 85 percent of their value were the tank constructed.

Fannon also spoke with several Searsport town department heads and concluded that the municipal services budget would not increase substantially. The only department that reported a possible increase was the Police Department, which could need two additional officers at a cost of $55,000 each per year.

Hinchman disputed this claim, asking whether Fannon had done any independent research or fact-checking of the statements by town officials on their expected costs. Fannon said her report simply used the numbers provided by the town employees she spoke with.

Fannon's report said that the tank could drop the mill rate by around $2 — from $19.80 to $17.95 — but that when other declines in property value and increased costs to the town were factored in, the mil rate would be around $18.60.

Commercial or industrial?

Tank opponents also questioned the use of an administration building located on a commercially zoned piece of the DCP property. The opponents contended that under the zoning ordinance the administration building could not be involved with operations for the tank, which is in an industrial zoned area.

DCP representatives testified that the building housed a control room that monitored the tank and could be used to remotely shut down valves in an emergency. The pipeline that connects the tank to the dock where fuel supply ships would offload the liquid propane gas also crosses the property. Hinchman noted that a driveway to the tank could be used as a staging area for fuel trucks waiting to fill up with the liquid propane.

Toward the end of the meeting Bearer asked the DCP representatives if they would concede that the property did not meet the zoning guidelines for a commercial property, which they would not.

The public hearing is expected to continue Thursday and Friday nights starting at 6 p.m. at Searsport High School. The board is also planning an additional public hearing in January.

Comments (12)
Posted by: Avery Grace | Dec 03, 2012 18:25

1) DCP does all of its procurements for construction, operations and purchases through a third party vetting company.IS Net World. The vendors and contractors have to pay the costs of their own vetting and the ongoing membership in IS Net World.At the moment there are no vetted and approved Maine companies.
Text from DCP's standard letter that it send to all contractors and vendors:
"Dear DCP Midstream Contractor,
DCP Midstream is committed to upholding the highest standards in operational reliability, safety, and execution of projects. To ensure we are maintaining these standards for our customers, investors, public, and employees, we are implementing a more rigorous contractor information system to guide us in evaluating risk and assist with our auditing of
practices.
We have established a business relationship with ISNetworld www.isnetworld.com who will begin serving as DCP Midstream’s primary contractor information management system. As a result of this action, contractors and their subcontractors performing services for DCP Midstream are required to become subscribers to ISNetworld. If your company is a current subscriber to ISNetworld, there is no additional fee; however, please ensure your company has completed the items below.
There is a nominal fee for this service. DCP Midstream believes the benefits to both parties will far exceed any
associated costs. A more comprehensive list of contractor benefits and subscription quick start guide are attached from ISN. etc/"
So when DCP says it prefers to hire local it means..with qualified and vetted companies. The vetting process involved very stringent background checks, osha history and requires insurance and bonding that most Maine contractors wouldn't have..
Also at a hearing earlier this week DCP admitted that only one ship had called at their LPG terminal in Chesapeake. Currently foreign propane is running $1 per gallon above US prices. How does Maine benefit?


2) Very little is known about the bedrock on which the DCP tank would be built, questioning whether it contains a fault that has undergone recent movement like the one found on adjacent Sears Island that ruled out the construction of a nuclear power plant by Central Maine Power in the late '70s and the siting of a considerably less explosive (than LPG) liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tank in the last decade.


3) The Sea of Florida, Inc. Tampa - LPG Refrigerated Terminal Project is the only comparative sized refrigerated LPG tank in the eastern US. In compliance with the EPA Risk Management Plan (RMP) regulation, 40 CFR Part 68 the following impact area was determined:

The hazard distance to an overpressure of 1 psi (breaking windows)is calculated to be 8,918 feet (1.69 miles). That includes most of the downtown and our entire Searsport school system.

Those damn whining business and home owners.

Pumping more foreign gas from Mack Point is not an industry (which has required great subsidies from the Maine tax payer), manufacturing is an industry, ship building is an industry, turbine technology development is an industry not pumping foreign propane.  Remember, the US is on it's way to becoming the world's largest oil producer http://www.tomkeane.com/2012/12/a-new-world-of-american-energy-independence.html

 

Even if you disagree with all I've said. please take some time to listen to all of the testimony given by the locals thus far in the hearing process.

http://penobscotbay.blogspot.com/2012/11/night-four-dcp-vs-locals-struggle.html

http://penobscotbay.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2012-12-01T00:00:00-05:00&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00-05:00&max-results=1

1) DCP does all of its procurements for construction, operations and purchases through a third party vetting company.IS Net World. The vendors and contractors have to pay the costs of their own vetting and the ongoing membership in IS Net World.At the moment there are no vetted and approved Maine companies.

Text from DCP's standard letter that it send to all contractors and vendors:

"Dear DCP Midstream Contractor,
DCP Midstream is committed to upholding the highest standards in operational reliability, safety, and execution of projects. To ensure we are maintaining these standards for our customers, investors, public, and employees, we are implementing a more rigorous contractor information system to guide us in evaluating risk and assist with our auditing of
practices.

We have established a business relationship with ISNetworld www.isnetworld.com who will begin serving as DCP Midstream’s primary contractor information management system. As a result of this action, contractors and their subcontractors performing services for DCP Midstream are required to become subscribers to ISNetworld. If your company is a current subscriber to ISNetworld, there is no additional fee; however, please ensure your company has completed the items below.
There is a nominal fee for this service. DCP Midstream believes the benefits to both parties will far exceed any
associated costs. A more comprehensive list of contractor benefits and subscription quick start guide are attached from ISN. etc/"

So when DCP says it prefers to hire local it means..with qualified and vetted companies. The vetting process involved very stringent background checks, osha history and requires insurance and bonding that most Maine contractors wouldn't have..

Also at a hearing earlier this week DCP admitted that only one ship had called at their LPG terminal in Chesapeake.

2) Very little is known about the bedrock on which the DCP tank would be built, questioning whether it contains a fault that has undergone recent movement like the one found on adjacent Sears Island that ruled out the construction of a nuclear power plant by Central Maine Power in the late '70s and the siting of a considerably less explosive (than LPG) liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tank in the last decade.

3) The Sea of Florida, Inc. Tampa - LPG Refrigerated Terminal Project is the only comparative sized refrigerated LPG tank in the eastern US. In compliance with the EPA Risk Management Plan (RMP) regulation, 40 CFR Part 68 the following impact area was determined:


The hazard distance to an overpressure of 1 psi (breaking windows)is calculated to be 8,918 feet (1.69 miles). That includes most of the downtown and our entire Searsport school system.

 



Posted by: MARY JEAN CROWE | Dec 02, 2012 21:41

 

http://content.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/smokestack/index

Search online: THE SMOKESTACK EFFECT, Toxic Air and America's Schools

Type in Searsport, Maine to see the rating Searsport receives. See what industries are listed; who is responsible. Read about eye, nose, throat irritating chemicals, and cancer causing chemicals at Mack Point now.

Do you want more industrial pollution and toxic air in your community?

Is it healthy for your children to live with these chemicals; to work in an environment where they are ever-present? Is the trade-off of jobs versus health worth it? Are you willing to sacrifice your family, your community, your environment to more industrial pollution? Searsport's is already in jeopardy due to hazardous chemical pollution. Add this to the economic picture. Is more industrialization good for anyone?



Posted by: R. Ross Carroll | Dec 02, 2012 20:40

Back in the 1940's searsport was one of the most dangerous ports on the east coast.  There was 3 or4 ships at the docks loading ammunition, there were so many railroad cars with the ammo that they were backed up along long cove.  They had army barracks where Irving was, guarding things.

On top of the pentacle church there was a coupalo also where the women would watch for airplane.  There was a siren for an alarm.

i guess if we could take all that we can handle a tank.

 

Ross CarrollCarroll



Posted by: Harold Richardson | Dec 02, 2012 13:34

Melvin- A large percentage of the "good" current jobs in the area are supported by the second home market-contractors-realtors etc.  I've read from between 2 and 12 jobs at this proposed tank once construction is complete.  I would be surprised if any of those new jobs go to local people that are already out of work.  Where is the net gain in jobs if the second home market is damaged and those t'shirt and antique shops close.  Of course people need work but will this be a net gain in jobs or even property taxes once all the neighbors get their abatements?  The proponents are always quick to complain about people from away but I would argue that those people are employing more locals at a higher rate of pay than anything else in the area and it is foolish to possibly ruin that without knowing what the facts are.          



Posted by: Melvin J. Box | Dec 02, 2012 12:11

For many of us to stay and live on the coast of Maine we need jobs. We need jobs for our children so they can stay on the coast and not have to move to southern Maine or out of state so we only get to see them and the grand kids on the holidays. We need to carve out small section of the state to support the population. We all can't make a living out of selling antiques and t-shirts during the summer. As stated on here...Searsport is a PORT.



Posted by: Harold Richardson | Dec 02, 2012 10:43

I can appreciate all that Derek.  I think all the talk about the thing blowing up is silly.  People are safer sitting on top of that tank than they are sitting in their own living room.  I do think people have a right to question the entire project though on what this will do to property values, increased truck traffic thru town and whether this will actually produce any jobs.  I doubt very much if there will be any net gain of jobs with this thing and the gain in taxes may be largely offset by all the abatements.  I also think it's misplaced to continue to blame people from away for all the opposition when it is clear that many locals and business owners are concerned.  Lets not forget that the company that wants to put this in is also from away.  I think the decision should be made by the people of Searsport but the argument that the opposition is from away is as bad as the argument that it's going to blow up.     



Posted by: Derek & Wendy Dunbar | Dec 02, 2012 10:22

I have lived my whole life in this town of Searsport spent 20 years on the fire department raised my family a stone throw from where they are planning on installing this tank and have no problem with this tank . This town was founded on the port that we have and named for it SEARS  PORT but out of state retired people think they can come and settle in this town and change it to a retirement town WRONG. People from here still have to feed our families and pay our bills with money we earn from here not from monies we earned from out of state . By the way I haul HAZARD CHEMICALS for a living to companies that supply MAINERS with JOBS . DEREK

 



Posted by: Harold Richardson | Dec 02, 2012 10:17

I think the businesses in Searsport have enough to worry about concerning their property values etc.  No matter what side you are on they shouldn't be held responsible for any of this and I will certainly support them when I can.  From what I've seen the planning board has done a good job.  They are following the rules that they have to follow by law and in the end the decision will be made by the courts for sure.  Picking on the businesses reminds me of all the biker dudes that were blaming the Belfast downtown last summer.  What is it with all the boycotts around here anyway.  Can't we all just get along. 



Posted by: A L M | Dec 02, 2012 09:41

I feel terrible for all of the business owners and residents in Searsport who do not want this tank. This tank is a terrible idea that could have catastrophic consequences. My message is truly for the board members and tank supports who just don't realize how this is a regional issue and how it WILL impact their town. The board appears to be stubborn just because they feel no one is going to tell them what to do, which is not the case! I think a bunch of smooth talking, back slapping DCP reps came to town a while back and gave their dog and pony show to some board members and talked them into this horrible idea without full knowledge of what DCP is all about. It saddens me that the board is entertaining the idea of this huge company, from away, whose only interest is in lining their already very deep pockets. DCP does not have a personal interest in Searsport or mid-coast. The ONLY interest they have is making money for DCP. Period! I feel violated and I don't even live in Searsport! Who is going to pay for the air pollution, the road repairs, the increase in roadway incidents, the loss of tourism, the cost for emergency response upgrades and God forbid if there is an accident at this proposed facility? WE WILL pay, the residents, the locals, with our health and money, NOT DCP! The DCP executives might show up for a week or two in July to have their vacation, eat a few meals out and then they will be gone with their money in their pockets to spend elsewhere, not here! Is a handful of so-so paying jobs at this proposed facility really worth ALL of the negatives that come along with the package? From where I sit, the answer is clearly NO!  



Posted by: Joanne McNally | Dec 01, 2012 18:21

Punishing the businesses doesn't make much sense to me.  Quite a few of them are against the DCP project.  A "panel" of local businesses gave thoughtful and compelling testimony at the Thursday session of the Public Hearing.  The decision will be made by the five members of the Searsport Planning Board.  In my opinion many local businesses are doing everything they possibly can to prevent the DCP proposal from being approved.



Posted by: Robin Parker | Dec 01, 2012 10:07

I am from Belfast and I respect the wishes of the majority of the voter's of Searsport. I alway's have, and I will continue to shop in searsport. The people want industry to provide job's for the local people and have rejected the idea of being still another retirement camp for the wealthy from away. WE the people who work and live our entire lives here deserve a win now and then. Dean Parker



Posted by: A L M | Nov 30, 2012 09:50

This issue has gotten a large amount of press and it is apparent that DCP and their Searsport supporters are NOT willing to listen to the concerns of people in the mid-coast area regarding the impact this project will have on the region.  If this project goes through, I certainly have absolutely NO intent of patronizing ANY business or establishments in Searsport.  In fact, I would hope that if Searsport turns their back on the mid-coast, then perhaps mid-coast should turn their backs on Searsport and not have anything to do with the town.  I will not spend one dime in this town if this tank is built!  Total Boycott!



If you wish to comment, please login.