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Appeals Board begins review of Planning Board’s Nordic decision

By Kendra Caruso | Feb 23, 2021
Source: City of Belfast The Zoning Board of Appeals meets via Zoom to discuss Upstream Watch's appeal of the Planning Board's granting of permits for Nordic Aquafarms'  proposed land-based fish farm.

Belfast — No determination was reached at the Zoning Board of Appeals’ Feb. 18 meeting regarding the Planning Board’s decision to issue Nordic Aquafarms five permits to build a land-based fish farm next to the Little River.

This first meeting established initial criteria to be met to move forward with a review and to schedule another meeting date. The Appeals Board will take up at its next meeting whether the intervenor appealing the permit decisions has standing to appeal.

Local environmental group and vocal Nordic opponent Upstream Watch was the only intervenor that filed an appeal. It is interested in restoring the Little River and protecting the walking trails in the area.

Nordic asserts that Upstream did not prove standing to appeal the decision because it has not proven it will be harmed, or that it owns land abutting the development.

The state requires that parties appealing a Planning Board decision must have been involved in the Planning Board process and have property abutting the proposed project and establish how the property will be harmed by the board's decision, according to the Maine Municipal Association.

There was discussion of whether or not Jim and Amy Grant's Good Karma Farm abuts the project closely enough to maintain Upstream's standing. City Planner Wayne Marshall said from a certain point there is about 600 feet between their farm and Nordic's project.

No new information will be presented to the Appeals Board. Members will only have what is in the Planning Board’s record to review its permitting decision. The Appeals Board will look at whether or not the Planning Board applied the code correctly in making its decision.

Nordic’s project has been hotly disputed by local environmental groups and citizens who think its technology is not as sustainable as the company claims. The groups also have concerns about the dredging needed to bury the company’s pipes in an intertidal and subtidal zone north of the mouth of the Little River.

Ownership of the intertidal zone where Nordic proposes to place its pipes is still under dispute in Waldo County Superior Court. Jeffrey Mabee and Judith Grace claim to own the intertidal zone in front of several properties north of their own, including the area where Nordic wants to place its pipes.

Neighbors Janet and Richard Eckrote claim they own the intertidal area in front of their property and entered into an easement with Nordic giving the company permission to use the area for its pipes.

The next Appeals Board meeting is March 4 at 6 p.m. It can be viewed on the city’s website or on BEL TV.

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