Where’s the money?

The Belfast City Council claims that the money Nordic will bring to the city is crucial for fixing infrastructure and helping with taxes — all very important goals. So isn’t it also crucial to make sure Nordic has the money?

Nordic has stated from the beginning, “once we have the permits we’ll have the money.” They’ve had their permits since December 2020. Please share evidence with the taxpayers of Belfast that Nordic is financially sound, before taking this legally expensive step of attempting to take private property through eminent domain.

How many of the permit conditions requiring “Evidence of Financial Capacity” has Nordic met to date? Here is a brief summary of the Planning Board conditions:

Prior to the start of construction Nordic shall submit evidence of sufficient funds solely designated for this project or that it has been granted a line of credit or a loan by a financial institution authorized to do business in this State or evidence of any other form of financial assurance. Such evidence must, at a minimum, include an updated time schedule for the development, updated cost estimates for the project, a cost-loaded schedule for all construction, and the identification of all costs necessary to comply with all permit approvals from the City of Belfast. Nordic must demonstrate that the proposed financing is either clearly linked from the financing institution to Nordic or that sufficient funds have been set aside and specifically dedicated for the proposed development.

Show us the money.

Sally Brophy

Belfast

Councilors are not kings

It’s been more than a few years now since Nordic graced our shores with its proposal to obliterate land in the Little River district of Belfast to make way for their epic money-making scheme. It has never made sense to me that they would hang on this long, what with local heroes Judith Grace and Jeffrey Mabee refusing to sell their property to them (they claim ownership to a right-of-way that a judge is deciding on right now; Nordic must have access to our bay so they can flush their giant fish tanks into it).

This week, the Belfast City Council revealed why these folks have been sticking around, ingratiating themselves to our citizens by giving money to local causes and hiring a PR person. On Tuesday night, all five counselors declared the city’s right to slam pipes into the shoreland despite the wishes of the owners of the land. City lawyer Bill Kelly has given permission for them to do this (Bill Kelly’s fees are paid for by Nordic Aquafarms).

Why is this action being taken now, when the judge is deliberating on the case? When the decision is so close to being made as to the rights of Nordic to ownership of the right-of-way? This is speculation, but maybe it’s because Nordic’s case made in court recently was so weak. I’m guessing they’re afraid that they’re going to lose this one. And Nordic does not intend to lose.

Belfast city councilors are not kings. They cannot leapfrog over the judicial system and magically grant a private corporation the right to develop the property of people who have paid their property taxes for 40 years here and proven themselves stellar citizens of the community.

This is the time to speak out. I’m doing so and I’m asking my community to stand up for what is so clearly right in this situation: Let the rule of law decide. If Nordic doesn’t like the decision, it can be appealed. That’s how it’s done here in America.

Jennifer Hill

Waldo

A love story: Belfast City Council and Nordic Aquafarms

As national headlines this week report “climate extremes” and CBS reports “96,000 fish killed after chlorine leak at seafood facility the Belfast City Council is taking extraordinary steps to seize land by eminent domain to lay effluent pipes for a carbon intensive and polluting project that will overwhelm local and state carbon budgets. 

This Thursday, August 12, the Belfast City Council is holding a ‘public hearing’ where they intend to take the land of the Harriet Hartley Conservation area for the benefit of one foreign corporation, Nordic Aquafarms. Councilors claim this step is for the public benefit. 

Even though this project would add the equivalent of 11 times more nitrogen than the Belfast City Sewer to Penobscot Bay and 5 times more carbon than the town’s residents, the councilors appear to have made up their minds in advance of the ‘public hearing’ after holding secret meetings. It is interesting to note, this council has asked their own Climate Crisis Committee not to discuss Nordic’s carbon footprint. Where does the chlorine leak fit in?  Nordic’s proposal includes 14,800 gallons of bleach, 1.5 million gallons of methanol and 16 other chemicals totaling thousands of gallons.

The ethical thing for this council to do is to say: We should respect private property and not attempt to disguise this as public benefit when this taking is really for Nordic Aquafarms. And, we should allow the supreme court to decide the right, title and interest of the disputed land. How easy it would be to say to Nordic, bring us back a proposal with zero effluent and minimal carbon impact, that doesn’t clear carbon storing forests and wetlands — then eminent domain would be unnecessary.

Councilors claim jobs and taxes as their rationale. But will Nordic find technical people to run a mostly automated factory in Belfast? I doubt any fiscal relief will be left after $63,000,000 of ratepayer funds are spent to expand a power corridor for 28 MW of power for Nordic, and, the city pays to dechlorinate Nordic’s water, and thousands of hours of staff time are spent facilitating, not regulating a foreign company registered in Delaware. This marriage of government and private enterprise has no place in a democracy. 

Jim Merkel

Belfast

Second Amendment misunderstood

There is a growing misunderstanding of the origins and circumstances of the Second Amendment, mostly among people without any family roots in the era of that Amendment.

In New England of the Colonial period, able-bodied males between about 18 and  55 were required to keep a musket, ammunition, and an edged fighting weapon in their homes, and to belong to the militia. Clergy and fishermen were excepted in Massachusetts and its polyp, Maine. The militia had to be ready to be called up on short notice to defend the village or the colony.

However, they were subject to the orders of their elected officers, and the officers were subject to the orders of the colonial governor and his council. Nobody had a right to carry a firearm randomly in public without authorization from the town officers, received via an order from the colonial governor.

This idiot free-carry concept is a fallacy that has pupated since the days of such swaggering heroes as John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, etc. None of those movie gunslingers could claim an ancestor who actually served in the Colonial militia, or acquired the right to carry a firearm in public through a governor’s order.

William Leavenworth

Searsmont

Fight fair

I am saddened and frankly, confused, by Belfast’s city leaders’ complete and total support of the proposed Nordic Aquafarms project. I have researched and educated myself, and from every angle, I cannot see the wisdom in the tradeoff they are trying to make with a foreign company that proposes to pour pollution into our bay and suck up our water in unheard-of amounts.

Belfast is a wonderful place without Big Aqua worming its way in — the streets and stores are full and vibrant, restaurants are flourishing, and the vibe is authentic and true.

Why muck up that success by fighting to pave the way for a company that clearly has profit as its one and only concern? They are doing a disservice to their city and citizens.

As for the current effort by Belfast leaders to use eminent domain to provide Nordic Aquafarms’ pipeline access to the Penobscot Bay so that they can dump their fish waste, all I can say is … really, people? Fight fair.

Suzanne Rico

Northport

Please be kind

To members of the anti-Nordic Aquafarms group who disagree with the unanimous decision made by the Belfast City Council on Tuesday, please be kind. Don’t insult, misquote or worse, threaten your elected officials. And, no, I can assure you that my wonderful wife of almost 30 years, Brenda, and her colleagues on the City Council are not bought by corporations.

An independent thinker and a small Main Street entrepreneur, Brenda is a kind-hearted person who truly wants what is best for the citizens of Belfast. Like her colleagues, she attends countless hours of monthly meetings after carefully reviewing briefings on myriad complex issues. She, and only she, decides on how she will vote, sometime in agreement with her colleagues, sometime very much against the majority. She has earned her seat and respect on the council. As many expected, she has brought peace after several tumultuous council years and her kind and supportive approach is widely appreciated by people working for the city.

You have the right to be opposed to the Nordic aquaculture project, and this despite the overwhelming community, business and state support (including on both sides of the political aisle). The anti-Nordic group/property abutters (who conveniently and for better public appeal branded themselves/created the “Friends of Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area”) absolutely have the right to organize, submit scripted opinion pieces to local papers, online and emails, hire lawyers and make their case in court — as they have for the last three and half years. They and the citizens of Belfast will also be able to run for and/or cast freely their votes in the next municipal elections.

In the meantime, Brenda will continue to respectfully and ethically represent the citizens of Belfast, for which she was elected by a wide margin in 2019. Anti-Nordic folks, please return the same favor.

Thierry H. Bonneville

Belfast

City ‘gaslighting’ residents

Gaslighting the citizens of Belfast by saying we’ll have a “park,” it’ll be great. Well, what is planned is not a park, it’s an excuse for the city to give Nordic Aquafarms a place to put its effluent pipes. We have a number of park(s), and one is called the Friends of Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area.

Here is one legal definition of the the HLHCA: The public has the right to use this intertidal area for fishing, fowling and navigation, pursuant to the Colonial Ordinance of 1641-47 and the public trust doctrine; and, based on additional rights of permissive use granted by the Friends, visitors to the conservation area may engage in additional recreational activities in this intertidal area beyond the limited recreational uses that are permitted under the Colonial Ordinance or public trust doctrine. Signs are posted welcoming the public to the Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area. These signs explain the additional permissive uses that can be conducted in this protected area.

Wikipedia: The term “gaslighting” is derived from the title of the 1944 film “Gaslight,” where a vulnerable protagonist is manipulated to believe a harmful and false reality that benefits the self-serving antagonist.

This definition of gaslighting sums up what the entire fiasco has been like since the very beginning, behind closed doors with all the players, except for the ones who will suffer most of the consequences. And the city will try to take this land by eminent domain; what an act of desperation, and shameful to boot.

We know our clean water, our clean air, our (finally) swimmable ocean water and enjoyable beaches (after the chicken processing days), our quiet neighborhoods, our mature forests, our diversity of wildlife, not to mention our “peace” of mind, are worth far more than gold itself. We were born, but we weren’t born yesterday; stop gaslighting our community.

Aimee Moffitt-Mercer

Belfast

Street party planners say thanks

Monday,  Aug. 2, started out with clouds and rain, but turned into a perfect day and night to host the 12th annual Belfast Summer Street Party. The city of Belfast makes this event possible with sponsorship, financial support, and city services.

Thank you to the Belfast City Council. Thank you, Bob Richards, and the Belfast Highway Department. Without Norm Poirier and Belfast Parks and Recreation, we’d be lost. Thanks to the Belfast Police for their care and consideration.

It takes a village and a long list of participant supporters: Waterfall Arts, The Belfast Lions Club, Project Graduation, Pine State Heroes, Tina Del Santo, The Colonial Theatre, Nordic Aquafarms, Belfast Fiberarts, and Hannaford’s for cake to celebrate Maine’s 201st!, Dairy Queen, The Game Loft, Moore’s Septic Porta Potties, and the Belfast area YMCA; we missed the Waldo County Re-entry guys and hope you’ll join us next year!

Stone Fox ice cream, Scone Goddess, Colburn Shoe, Corner Spring Montessori, the Waldo County Democrats, our esteemed poster designer Bre Pinkham Bebb, Margie Gormley, Marianne McKinran, Humans of Belfast photos, Zelia’s Photgraphy and so many more who helped in many ways.  Thank you to Captain Obvious and Don Nickerson with Country Mist for great music!

Lastly, thank you all who brought yourselves, your friends, your family, the kids: We love having you all at the party. We have a lot of plans for next year and we’ll see you at the 13th Belfast Summer Street Party. Our best to you all.

Debbi Murphy

Tom Murphy

Norm Poirier

Mike Hurley

Belfast

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