10 reasons DCP proposal should be denied

My top 10 reasons why the Searsport Planning Board should deny the DCP mega-tank proposal:

10. We don’t need it. LPG import facilities such as this sit idle in other areas.

9. We don’t want it. The majority of people attending the hearings have been opposed to this project. Television and newspaper polls have shown major opposition to the tank. This issue has not divided the community, but has actually united the majority against it.

8. This is a regional issue. It would compromise both the environment and economy of a region much larger than Searsport.

7. It will generate toxic pollution. DCP has an alarming record of pollution violations. In New Mexico, the Environment Department reached a $60.8 million settlement agreement with DCP, listing several thousand air pollution violations over a five-year period. The DCP people will go back to Colorado and it will be our bodies absorbing this pollution, not theirs. You can’t put a price on the health of a community.

6. It would be incredibly dangerous. Accidents happen every day. Road and rail accidents happen. BLEVES happen (boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions). There wouldn’t be a name for BLEVES if they never happened.

5. It would hurt businesses throughout the region. Jobs? Would the 12 jobs DCP promises make up for the many jobs that would be lost if this tank is built? What about the impact on the fisheries?

4. It would reduce real estate values. We value our homes, neighborhoods, the natural environment, and the histories of our towns. If the tank is allowed, Searsport would be a sad, depressed, and depressing place filled with for sale signs, and no buyers.

3. The Megatank would harm tourism, on land and sea for all surrounding towns. The tourism economy of the entire region would tank thanks to the tank.

2. DCP would be a terrible neighbor. At the hearings, we have been appalled by the attitudes of the DCP representatives. They have displayed an utter disregard for the people who live here, acting as if we are dispensable, as if they are annoyed that we care so much about our communities. And this is DCP on their best behavior!

1. And the number-one reason the Planning Board should deny DCP’s proposal to build a 22.7-million-gallon megatank in Searsport? Size. Scale. This tank is much too large, and the land for it is much too small. Smaller tanks in other states have large buffer zones. The Searsport Planning Board should deny this application based on their own performance standard of “Unreasonable Adverse Effect: meaning any unreasonable risk to man, the environment, existing municipal services, property values, natural resources, and historic areas, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the project.”

Please, Searsport Planning Board, picture the kind of future you want for your children, and their children, and say no to this unneeded, unwanted, and hugely inappropriate proposal. We’ll all sleep better at night. Tank? No thanks!

Cathy Melio

Stockton Springs

Don't believe the 'experts'

I have learned that you can find “experts” to testify to anything you want them to say.

You can find an “expert” who will testify with lots of graphs and slides of various formulations and sketches of gray clouds, to explain why it is impossible for propane to explode.

You can get an “expert” to testify that there will be no economic impact from this mega-tank in a small destination waterfront hamlet, by comparing it to various wind farms, large city industrial zones and towns in Turkey.

You can hire a local “expert,” who is paid by the very company he is asked to testify about, who will say that there are no safety concerns for a small town volunteer fire department and very poor and crowded access roads.

You can hire a law firm who is more than comfortable lying about anything and everything in order to earn their large fees to get the job done, and that just because they are from Maine, does not mean that they actually care about the future of the Penobscot Bay and their state.

You can fool local residents by promising great jobs and a booming economy, regardless of whether you can actually deliver anything remotely like that.

You can have a board, made up of local residents, who are completely willing to act in secret, disrespect the people they are mandated to serve, and actually lobby against those townspeople who disagree with the company.

You can witness that a small town is not safe from corruption and greed just because it is a tiny little place where the neighbors know each other.

You can witness shameful behavior, blatantly committed, with no apparent attempt to respect a democratic and constitutional process.

You can observe that even (or perhaps especially) in matters of science, everyone has a right to their opinion and these opinions are more important than actual fact-checking.

I can only say that this has been quite an education.

Patricia Dirlam


Appreciates Jones' approach

I am writing to support Representative Brian Jones for his recent vote and editorial regarding the issue of releasing gun owners' names. Brian's careful examination of issues rather than reacting to legislation gives me great confidence in his skills and leadership as a legislator. I appreciate that he values public input before decisions are made. I am proud to have voted for Brian and to have his representation in Augusta.

Lynne Kaplowitz


Against surveillance cameras

It is our understanding that a workshop will soon be held with the City Council about potential surveillance cameras in Belfast. Apparently, there have been drugs and vandalism in the City Park and vandalism elsewhere near the water. There are now plans to lay conduit pipe during the new harbor walk construction to facilitate the installation of some of these potential cameras.

While we understand that the intention is to reduce crime and increase safety, we also believe it is essential to be aware of the unintended consequences of installing surveillance equipment. People feel and act differently when they know they’re being watched, and we are disturbed by the thought that we might no longer be able to walk along the water or in the park without our movements' being recorded.

This issue deserves a thoughtful conversation in the community. We hope our neighbors will join in the discussion and generate an alternative to this loss of privacy.

Jean and Steve Vitali


Disagrees with Piotti

The inspiration for offering this opinion was a personal e-mail sent to me by John Piotti, executive director of Maine Farmland Trust, referencing his "Cedar and Pearl" column of March 6, "Taxes, Conservation Easements, Farms and Other Thoughts of Spring."

In his column, Mr. Piotti reduces the response of sitting selectmen to property tax increases to a simple complaint about “others.” Of the many selectmen I have met across the state of Maine during the past 46 years, very few are uncaring about their citizens. Recently, one very frugal first selectman from Waldo County put it best: “We are expected to raise taxes on people’s homes to cover the fiscal irresponsibility of the school and state, but how are the elderly — in their 70s and 80s — going to earn more income to pay? They can’t!”

Mr. Piotti is correct in his assessment of hearing more complaints about nonprofits and conservation initiatives. There is actually more and more documentation surfacing to substantiate that there is indeed a shift in tax burden directly related to aggressive conservation activities, particularly in small, rural towns with a limited tax base. The analysis of cost of services related to current use taxation cannot be compared as equally applied to individuals and to nonprofit corporations for two very obvious reasons. First, the individual is a finite entity; the nonprofit corporation is a perpetual entity. Second, the individual generally has paid taxes on all income generated that is used to invest in private land; the nonprofit corporation is income tax-exempt and very often seeks public funds for acquisition projects.

Mr. Piotti’s characterization of the view of conservation easements increasing the valuations of adjacent properties as “misguided and false” is not entirely accurate. Privacy is the most expensive commodity on the planet; property adjacent to non-developable property thereby becomes more valuable in the marketplace. Since real estate is assessed at market value, there is a shift in tax burden to neighboring property when easements to prohibit development occur. Over time, in aggregate, conservation easements do indeed drive up property values, creating a preservation pressure on small communities.

Mr. Piotti’s further characterization of those of us with differing perspectives as “not fully informed,” and members of the argumentative, “facts be damned” crowd, is a testament to his attitude of arrogant pretension that those who have worked to acquire property, worked to pay taxes on their income, as well as their acquired property, do not possess the wherewithal to properly evaluate the beneficial impact of nonprofit corporations on our daily lives.

On Jan. 25 of this year I agreed, along with Mr. Piotti and others, to work together to develop a summit with land trusts, farm businesses, municipalities and others to discuss the impacts of land trust activities on rural Maine individuals and communities. We agreed to begin a dialog to answer the question many are asking across rural Maine: how is it possible to move 20 percent or more of Maine’s natural resource base from private ownership to the control of nonprofit corporations and not have an economic impact on individuals, infrastructure and communities?

Mr. Piotti is an employee of Maine Farmland Trust. According to the IRS Form 990 filed by the tax-exempt corporation for the fiscal year 2011, Mr. Piotti’s compensation exceeded six figures; total assets of the corporation were in excess of $13 million (including an art collection valued at $289,000). Maine Farmland Trust is only one of 88 land trusts operating in Maine with the common mission of “protecting and preserving” land.

By contrast, municipal officials, taxpayers and small business owners (including privately owned farms) are trying to evaluate the impact that this enormous collaborative effort of “protecting and preserving” Maine’s natural resource base is having on their own personal lives, at their own personal expense. They have just embarked on a journey called education — the distance between question and answer.

If there is any misunderstanding clouding this issue, it is on the part of the preservationists, who fail to understand the sacred bond between the land and those who work the land.

Sandy George


Benefit sponsors say thanks

Maine Women in Biz and the Cancer Support Center of Maine would like to thank everyone who came to the Souper Bowl Friday, March 8, at the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Bucksport, for their good cheer and support. It was a delicious and colorful event. Also, we would like to extend our gratitude to the local restaurants that showed great generosity in contributing delectable soups: MacLeod’s in Bucksport; Rise and Shine on Verona; Orland Market and Duffy’s in Orland; Angler’s in Searsport; and Cleonice and Jasper’s in Ellsworth. Local potters included the Pottery, Art and Writing Studio and Showroom of Stockton Springs; Mainely Pottery of Belfast; Clayforms Pottery of Sedgewick and The Brooklin Pottery Co-op of Brooklin. Many additional potters from all over the state participated and are listed at our respective websites. Special thanks also to St. Vincent de Paul Church and Hannaford for their support. Both our local nonprofit organizations express deep gratitude to all who donated time, talent and gifts to make this event such a great success.

All proceeds were donated to the Cancer Support Center of Maine. For anyone who could not make the event but would like to purchase a bowl, local potter and Maine Women in Biz member Asha Fenn of the Pottery, Art and Writing Studio and Showroom provides free shipping for her beautiful pieces listed here: shop.maineartistsgroup.com/searchresults.asp?cat=1931, with half of proceeds going towards the Cancer Support Center.

Barbara Vittum

Executive Director Cancer Support Center of Maine

Liz Huggins

President, Maine Women in Biz

Still time to see "Sight"

Theater is alive and well at the downtown Playhouse, where "At First Sight" is now playing. You still have time to enjoy this small troupe of seasoned and accomplished actors romping through a hilarious evening of laughs and surprise twists and turns in the plot. Our local actors, set and costume designers, directors and support people continue to provide us with high quality, fresh entertainment, despite the limitations imposed upon them by ever-diminishing suitable venues in which to perform. Thanks for your efforts and for the gift of laughter.

Shirley Jarvella


Save Seaview Terrace

Democracy and goodwill can be restored, beginning with the March 19 Belfast City Council meeting. The actual TIF documents were not presented at the March 5 meeting, although the city planner placed them against the wall, next to me. They have not posted it online and if you wish to view them, you must go to City Hall prior to March 19. According to public notice, it seems the public comment for the TIF is before the meeting at 7 p.m. What? They will seal the fate of Seaview Terrace if they don't include us in the Northport Avenue TIF. Save us by emailing and copying me on a written request to Council, mayor and City Manager Joe Slocum to include Seaview Terrace in the Northport TIF via WCGH Annex Improvements and build storm water sewers to protect the residents in the flood plain flood zone of Seaview Terrace from further flooding. Please repair Seaview Terrace Road with roadside drainage. Saving lives can be this easy if we unite. More information can be found at www.belfastbullies.blogspot.com.

Laurie Allen


Stopping gun violence

Do you really, really want to do something about violent crime in America? Something more than just hype and power-grabbing? And get all of the real crooks in America? Including those hiding behind their "immunities?"

Here's how to do it:

First, mandate full prosecution of all "violent" crimes — real violence — everything form minor assaults to outright heinous murders. no exceptions, no immunity. Make those the focus of local law enforcement, and power ordinary citizens to document, plus ensure vigorous prosecution of all such violence, no matter who does it.

Second, mandate that all obstruction of justice be prosecuted to their full extent, again, regardless of who commits the crime. This especially includes both the use of perjury in official proceedings, plus also those aiding and abetting such conduct. And don't ignore those concealing evidence.

Forbid plea deals to lesser crimes. Convict offenders for their felonies, and take away their guns. No exceptions, no immunities, no leeway for official misconduct.

Third, obligate — by strict statutory authority — complete prosecution of each and every one of those who commit, or aid and abet, obstructions of justice in legal proceedings. Again, no immunities, and ensure that ordinary citizens can document and force the vigorous prosecution of such crimes, regardless of official positions.

This includes those hiding behind official positions, or the First Amendment, so as to engage in deliberately fraudulent or misleading conduct. No protections for fraudulent libels, no protections for official misconduct obstructing justice in our courts. Empower ordinary citizens to protect our constitutional rights.

Fourth, the federal RICO Act can, and should, be vigorously used to prosecute both violence used as part of a "pattern" of criminal conduct, plus all obstructions of justice in "patterns," as well as other RICO predicate conduct, including felonious state law crimes. Again, ordinary citizens must be empowered to ensure prosecution of such claims to ensure official misconduct doesn't escape prosecution. return America to ordinary Americans. Their security depends on it.

Randall Hofland

Maine State Prison