The city's Zoning Board of Appeals threw out Upstream Watch’s appeal of the Planning Board’s decision to grant Nordic Aquafarms’ permits for a land-based fish farm when it met March 4.

Appeals Board members took issue with the first standing document submitted by Upstream, claiming it did not establish standing for appeal. Upstream submitted a second document to establish its standing, but it was after the 30-day window to submit a Planning Board appeal.

Four out of five of the board’s members voted to use the initial document Upstream submitted and then found that it failed to establish standing to appeal the Planning Board decision.

Requirements to appeal Planning Board decisions state that an appellant must have been involved in the Planning Board process, have property abutting the proposed project and have established how the property will be harmed by the board's decision, according to the Maine Municipal Association.

Board members found that Upstream did not provide sufficient proof that the property of one of its members abuts the project and would be negatively affected by it. They felt that President Amy Grant and her husband Jim’s Good Karma Farm, 600 feet from Nordic's proposed site, did not abut the project closely enough to prove standing.

“It’s really a mystery why Nordic would want to delay the local permitting process further,” Grant said in a press release. “The fact that they denied us our right to be heard because they didn’t like the way we filled out the appeal application is absurd and we’re more than confident that a judge will agree."

The Appeals Board bases its review on what is already in the Planning Board record, not allowing new information to be submitted for review. Upstream argues that because the Planning Board found that it had standing as an intervenor, the documents supporting that determination should prove the group has standing to appeal the permit decision.

The Appeals Board agreed at its first meeting that the fact a party had standing in the Planning Board process did not mean it had standing to appeal and the appellant must prove its standing before the Appeals Board.

Nordic said in an email to The Republican Journal that Upstream has always advocated against the project, despite intense scrutiny by regulatory agencies. It hopes the group will let the project move forward without further appeals.

“The fact that UW hasn't been able to prove that it has standing speaks to the quality of its work,” the company wrote.

“We sincerely hope that UW can now accept the situation and let Nordic proceed with its plans to create a high quality aquaculture facility in Belfast that will bring good jobs and tax revenue to the city, while maintaining the highest level of environmental standards seen in the industry today. Nordic is here in Belfast to stay, and this is a waste of time and resources.”

Upstream attorney David Losee requested a refund of the over $3,000 application fee the group submitted because the board rejected its appeal. City Attorney Bill Kelly asked the group to withdraw the appeal, saying that then a refund might be negotiated. Losee said Upstream has no intention of withdrawing its appeal.