Opponent appeals MBNA Northport permit to BEP

By Lynda Clancy | Jan 11, 2000

Northport — Coastal Waters Project has appealed the state permit issued to MBNA allowing the construction of 40 cabins on Ducktrap Mountain to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, hoping the board will revoke the permit.

The appeal was submitted Dec. 30. Now it's up to the Department of Environmental Protection, which issued the permit, to form a recommendation on how it thinks the BEP should proceed.

Coastal Waters has actively protested the DEP permit issued last month. That permit approved the construction of 40 recreational cabins on the side of Ducktrap Mountain. Cabin sizes range from 468 to 650 square feet in size.

Ron Huber of Coastal Waters is appealing the permit on multiple counts, saying the permit should be revoked and MBNA be required to remove the cabins and roads and revegetate the site.

A spokesman at the DEP commissioner's office said last week that the BEP will probably not hear the appeal before Feb. 17. In the appeal process, MBNA has the opportunity to file a rebuttal and interested parties have 15 days to comment on the DEP recommendation after it is issued.

At the time of the DEP approval of the MBNA permit, an MBNA spokesman said the company gives no credence to Huber's protests.

"Mr. Huber's continued attempt to inflame public concern over this project by raising unsubstantiated and incorrect facts benefits no one," said MBNA's Blaine Buck in a pre-approval letter to DEP.

The BEP is a citizen advisory board whose 10 members are appointed by the governor. The BEP interprets, administers, and enforces laws relating to the environment. It also makes rules, decides selected permit applications, and reviews the Commissioner's licensing and enforcement actions. Decisions made by the DEP can be appealed to the board.

In the appeal, Huber said the DEP should have notified the public of changes to the final permit before it was signed by the commissioner's office. Huber maintains that significant alterations were made to the draft permit after it was circulated to various parties for review.

"We are challenging the authority of the Department of Environmental Protection to accept and incorporate last-minute significant changes to the project's application without reopening the comment period and providing notice to the stakeholders and other parties of interest of the modification to the application," the appeal says.

"The department unlawfully deleted requirements embedded in three places in the draft permit from the final permit. Specifically, the department excised the requirement that the developer remove its 40 buildings and roads from the deer wintering area, if the developer and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife could not come to an agreement on a plan to protect the Ducktrap Deer Yard."

The appeal also maintains the DEP should have considered the cumulative impact of MBNA's development on the mountain. MBNA has already built a fitness center, garage, shed, and playing field on the lower part of the mountain, near Route 1. Closer to the crest of the mountain is its conference building overlooking Penobscot Bay.

Huber also said in the appeal that the DEP should have held a public hearing on the proposal because of "significant public interest."

Coastal Waters Project also says the DEP did not correctly coordinate with the New England Fishery Management Council to gauge the impact of the development on the Ducktrap River, home to endangered Atlantic Salmon.

"We appeal the Department's failure to evaluate the significant direct impacts on the mountain's resources, as well as the substantial adverse indirect, secondary and cumulative impacts to the Ducktrap River/Harbor estuarine complex, to forest interior dwelling wildlife, to threatened and endangered species, to aquatic resources, to freshwater wetland resources and to marine and estuarine resources.

Huber said his organization has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for state documents relating to the MBNA permit acquistion.
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