Area residents shared concerns about Nordic Aquafarms’ technical ability to design and operate a land-based salmon farm with Planning Board members Monday night.

In addition, the board accepted another intervenor application, as well as taking several votes to move Nordic Aquafarms’ application forward.

A number of speakers on the company’s technical ability cited its young age — 5 years old — as an indication of inexperience, including Perkins Road property owner and Searsmont resident Ellie Daniels.

“Their relative inexperience is not sufficient for a project of this size,” Daniels said.

Other people suggested alternative systems that have been developed in recent years as better options than those proposed by Nordic and spoke to the difficulty in gaining insurance on recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Belfast resident Linda Buckmaster noted the company presented a lot of resumes but not a lot of information about its actual systems.

“We don’t want 40 acres in Belfast to be an experiment,” she said.

Holly Faubel of Belfast spoke about patents. She said Nordic has claimed to have multiple patents but a search revealed only one active one. As she spoke, Nordic President Erik Heim could be seen shaking his head, along with his wife, Marianne Naess, who is the company’s commercial director.

Later, Project Director Ed Cotter briefly mentioned accusations made during the hearing.

“We would not be able to respond to all (questions raised),” he said. “But we heard several statements misquoted.”

Belfast resident Dirk Faegre said he lives less than a mile from the proposed development. He’s been impressed with the company’s efforts today, he said, particularly when it comes to testing private wells in the area. Before conducting pumping tests for the facility, Nordic officials approached him to ask if they could place a monitoring device in his well — he agreed and said he was shown the results and offered, in writing, assurances about the water quantity and quality continuing. If those assurances are not met, Faegre said, the company will connect his home — at their cost — to city water.

The experience and number of current staff is a concern of Andy Stevenson. He said the company needs to “grow a team before they grow a business.” To date, many of the employees are based on Norway or Denmark, with fewer than a dozen actively working in Belfast. As well, Stevenson said he is concerned about what might happen inside the facility in the event of an extended power outage.

Belfast resident Jim Merkel spoke at length about a variety of concerns, at times being asked by the board’s acting chairman to stay on topic.

Planning Board members, after closing the hearing at 8:25 p.m., talked briefly about how to move forward and get answers to some of the questions. It was determined that the company will work with city staff to provide written answers to the board. The role of city staff is simply to collect and present the questions from the hearing, City Attorney Bill Kelly noted.

Early in the meeting, Director of Codes and Planning Wayne Marshall said he inadvertently missed an application from Larry and Betty Theye, whose property lies directly across the street from the proposed land-based salmon farm. Without discussion or objection, the board voted to approve the Theyes as parties in interest to the Nordic application, which gives the couple an elevated standing in the process as well as the right to appeal Planning Board decisions.

Mike Lannin, rejected at the Aug. 5 meeting for the status, submitted additional information but was again denied intervenor status with the city. Marshall noted different standards apply than those used by the state — Lannin, and a number of others, were granted intervenor status by Maine Board of Environmental Protection on the state applications last week.

Nordic representatives also made an overview presentation of the project so the board could determine if the proposed uses are allowed under city zoning.

“This is an early action,” Marshall said. “Because if they’re not allowed, this review stops now.”

Acting Chairman Declan O’Connor described the impending votes as “creating a package of permitted uses. And if we find a use that’s not permitted, then this whole thing stops.”

Eight separate votes — all unanimous — concluded Nordic’s proposed uses are allowed. Those uses are a land-based aquaculture facility, significant well water extraction, significant groundwater intake and discharge, and placement of the pipes required. A vote was taken on each zoning district — the projects falls within three — and proposed use.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 26, at 6 p.m. at University of Maine Hutchinson Center. Agendas are posted on the city website. Marshall noted because not all topics were covered Monday evening, they will be pushed to the 26th, including visual impact and buffers, as well as historical assessment. Additional topics will be considered as time allows at each three-hour meeting.

Parties in interest are limited to 10 minutes of speaking, while the public will be limited to four minutes. O’Connor stated he intends to enforce the time limit going forward.

“We’ve got to hold to it because, as you can see, we’re not getting through (the agenda),” he said.

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