Belfast Planning Board approved four permits for Nordic Aquafarms' land-based fish farm after about an hour-long meeting Dec. 22.

The shoreland permit, which was approved Dec. 17, zoning use permit, significant groundwater well permit, site plan permit, significant water intake and discharge permit were unanimously approved.

The votes put to bed 18 months of consideration over the application spread out among about 38 meetings. Project Planner Wayne Marshall commended board members for completing the process while also considering other major projects in that time frame.

Some conditions on the license include placing vegetative buffers on abutting properties, and monitoring water quality and usage amounts.

If Nordic purchases the lower dam on the Little River, then it must inform the board. If Nordic removes the dam, it must submit altered plans for how it would extract water from the river.

The Zoning Use permit stipulates that Nordic must submit proof of financial capacity for its Belfast project before both phases of construction. It also binds Nordic to a number of performance guarantees.

The board also included provisions requiring Nordic to monitor area wells and reimburse property owners if their water quality or levels decrease. These measures include connecting a property to city water, drilling a new well or installing a water filtration system if a neighboring well is adversely affected.

Opponents have 30 days to appeal the decision. City Attorney Bill Kelly advised board members not to discuss the project publicly or seek outside information in case the decision goes to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Board of Environmental Protection approved Nordic's state permits in November. Opposition group Upstream Watch filed an appeal of the BEP decision in mid-December.

Amy Grant, president of Upstream Watch, said the group is disappointed that the board decided to issue permits and will be working through the appeal process over the next few weeks. She thinks it will be impossible to restore the Little River if Nordic builds its adjacent facility.

"We are very disappointed that the members of the Planning Board chose to issue permits to an applicant who, by continuing to refuse to answer dozens of outstanding questions, has shown nothing but disdain for the process," she said in an email.

There is still a legal dispute over who owns the intertidal lands where Nordic proposes to bury its pipes. And the Army Corps of Engineers is still considering its Nordic permit.