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BPL final ruling: Nordic granted submerged lands lease

By Stephanie Grinnell | Sep 13, 2019
Source: Ransom Consulting The planned route of the intake and outflow pipes included in Nordic Aquafarms' applications.

Augusta — The state’s Bureau of Parks and Lands on Sept. 11 granted final approval of Nordic Aquafarms’ submerged lands lease, pending an officially recorded easement for disputed intertidal lands.

Nordic applied for the submerged lands lease for intake and outflow pipes to service its proposed land-based salmon farm to be located on the Belfast/Northport line. The company does not own property adjacent to the bay and negotiated an easement with Richard and Janet Eckrote to cross their waterfront property and tidal flats with the buried pipes.

However, neighbors Jeffrey Mabee and Judith Grace lay claim to the intertidal lands based on a 1946 deed from Harriet L. Hartley that includes a specific description of the intertidal lands of not only their property but also that of their neighbors, Larry and Betty Theye and the Eckrotes.

In its ruling, BPL acknowledges “competing claims to title to the intertidal land in from of the Eckrotes’ property. The Bureau, however, lacks the authority to resolve competing title claims; resolution of such claims is a function of the courts.” The ruling states that if a court determines Nordic, through the easement agreement with the Eckrotes, does not have sufficient title, right and interest, the submerged lands lease will not be issued.

Mabee and Grace have filed a lawsuit against Nordic and the Eckrotes based on the ownership claims to the intertidal lands.

Nordic Aquafarms is concurrently proceeding with its state and local permit applications. Besides the submerged lands lease, the company is also seeking state-issued Site Location of Development (SLODA), Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA), Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/Waste Discharge License (MEPDES) and Minor Source Air Emissions permits.

Locally, the company must meet city ordinances, including shoreland zoning. If the project is approved, the city also will issue a site plan permit and a use permit. As well, the city Planning Board is responsible for reviewing the company’s use of significant groundwater wells and discharge/outtake pipes. The lengthy city application — more than 2,000 pages — has been broken down by topic for Planning Board review.

During public hearings before the Planning Board, comments are restricted to agenda topics and limited to four minutes for the general public. Agendas for each meeting are posted on the city website.

Public comment on the city applications also is accepted in writing by mail or email at any time. Mail to City of Belfast, Code & Planning Department, 131 Church St., Belfast, ME 04915, or email to


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Comments (4)
Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Sep 14, 2019 18:16

Not a hard one to figure. NAF doesn't have ownership of the littoral zone. NADA. One hires a lawyer, if one needs legal advice. WTF? NAF can't identify a food source as they have indicated that within 3 years it will not contain fish meal. They can't say what it will be but technology will pick up the slack. Cheap salmon to feed the world is all they are after. Doesn't matter to them how they get there or what gets plowed and paved under to accomplish the task. There's a simple answer to whatever you deem to be complex.

Posted by: Eric Schrader | Sep 14, 2019 10:35

Hey Steve, nice smackdown of old Ralphie! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Steven Hutchings | Sep 14, 2019 08:21

Ralph: doesn't it bother you at all to give simple opinions on complex issues with absolutely no knowledge of the law or did you get you law degree from University of Ignorance.

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Sep 13, 2019 20:41

Well, apart from NAF unable to identify a food source for the fish they claim they will produce, they will now until shown otherwise be trespassers on private property below the high water mark.

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