Letters, May 7

May 07, 2020

Open letter to City Council

I would like to know where you stand in regard to the proposed Nordic fish farm and to make sure that my wife, myself and some of our neighbors who are strongly opposed are properly represented.

We never hear anything about the massive size of this proposed project and its excessive use of one of the city’s water supplies. All we hear is jobs, jobs, jobs, but not about the kind of jobs, the pay scale, or how many of the potential employees would actually live in Belfast, or if they would be from out of town like many if not most of those who work at the shipyard because the taxes and rents in Belfast are often too high for working people. It seems the constant clamoring about “jobs” is not justified under these circumstances.

We also never get any solid information about how this project would affect taxes. It seems that any tax gains get offset by infrastructure improvements and that these large projects do nothing towards reducing property taxes. We have seen zero benefit in that regard from the shipyard.

I would very much appreciate your attention to these inquiries and would like to remind you that large profitable corporate undertakings are mostly to the benefit of those parties and not necessarily for the people of Belfast. They come here to take, not to give, and the city council represents us, not corporations. Thank you for your consideration.

Steven Vitali

Belfast

Easter dinner thank-you

I want to extend a grateful thank-you to Melissa Kelly, chef of Primo of Rockland, and her staff, for cooking, packing and delivering the annual Easter Dinner that Adas Yoshuron Synagogue sponsors and serves at St. Peter’s Church. We usually serve a sit-down dinner, but due to COVID-19, we served a ham dinner, with mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted vegetables and brownies, takeout style.

Thanks, also, to Hannaford’s and Shaw’s for donating the hams and gift cards to buy the vegetables and potatoes. In spite of COVID-19, thanks to you, we were able to serve a delicious meal.

Linda Garson Smith

Soup Kitchen Coordinator

Adas Yoshuron Synagogue

Rockland

Time to go back to work

To the Governor:

It is time for us to go back to work.

You recently said “We are not out of the woods yet,” but who needs woods, if we can`t go out.

The Legislature needs to go back to work. Please call us back into session so that we may address the following:

1) The Constitution calls for the states to run themselves. Bring us back so we can do just that.

2) Reduce state spending now to give us a head start on reduced tax revenues.

3) Set the example for safely going back to work.

4) Work together in deciding the priorities of keeping the public safe, working, and healthy.

We can and should be saving our economy, before the cure becomes worse than the COVID-19 crisis. More testing is needed with special attention directed to the elderly, people with special needs, and nursing home establishments.

This is Maine, not New York. This shutdown will accelerate and exacerbate mental health problems, including suicides, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, all things that require more state resources at a time when we are unable to focus on anything else. Churches, schools and restaurants need to open and sports need to be played, all with proper precautions.

Governor, you and your experts have done a good job steering us through the past few confusing weeks, but a representative state government needs to help drive it through to the finish line. The finish line is called “normal.” A talking head said he was interested “in a new normal,” well, I know you and Mainers everywhere think Maine was just grand with her old normal and that our current situation is not one in which to try and impose a new ideology or way of life. If trucks are able to roll, and FedEx can deliver, if the mail can be moved, and automobiles can be fixed; if all the current “essential” people can work safely, than the rest of us can take precautions to work also.

It's time.

Sherman Hutchins

Penobscot

Ed. note: State Rep. Sherman Hutchins, R-Penobsoct, represents House District 131, which includes Prospect and Stockton Springs.

Support the Postal Service

I am writing in support of the United States Postal Service and to endorse Sen. King's efforts on its behalf. In these times of attempting to ease financial burdens due to the coronavirus, it is interesting to note that zero funding was allotted to our national Postal Service. Sheltering at home has undoubtedly fostered more online buying and Amazon is booming, but our most valuable asset for connectedness is completely ignored.

USPS delivers not only these packages, but also census forms, medications, Medicare checks, etc. Unfortunately, a law was passed in 2006 requiring USPS to pre-pay retirement benefits at least 50 years in advance, a situation unique to the Postal Service. They do an amazing job and have a high approval rating, but struggle under the weight of this mandate. It receives no funding other than reimbursements for nonprofit and lawmaker mailings. It's time to support this American institution that has served us so well for so many years!

Jean Vitali

Belfast

Thanks to RSU 71 personnel

As our district enters its sixth week of remote learning, we wanted to take a moment to express our deep gratitude to our teachers, staff and administrators for all of the amazing work they have been doing, and continue to do. This important work is keeping our children connected, educated, and fed during this difficult time.

We are so fortunate to have a school district full of incredible educators and staff who have risen to this unprecedented challenge presented to them on a moments’ notice. Teachers have pivoted to online and remote instruction without hesitation. They are connecting with students on various online platforms and have been reaching out via email, phone calls and uplifting videos.

Our food service workers and bus drivers are working early morning hours to provide our students healthy meals, delivered to their homes when needed, to ensure that children and families are fed and ready to learn.

Our school counselors are reaching out to countless students to check in with them and offer the emotional and academic support they need.

Our administrators are planning special celebrations for our students who are graduating and supporting all staff in so many ways.

During this time of uncertainty, these connections are a lifeline for our students, and for our community as a whole.

To our Regional School Unit 71 community, thank you. Thank you for all you have done, are doing, and will do.

Caitlin Hills, Chairwoman

Jess Woods, Vice Chairwoman

RSU 71 Board of Directors

Don't rush Nordic review

It’s inappropriate for the City Council and Nordic to pressure the Board of Environmental Protection to speed up its review of the Nordic factory farm proposal. BEP is a volunteer citizen board, which has already spent hundreds of hours on this proposal, including 12-hour days of public hearings when they were in town.

The council also wants the Department of Environmental Protection to speed things up during what must be a stressful work environment for state workers. DEP, at taxpayer expense, has itself put thousands of hours into this project.

All Nordic’s permit woes are by their own hand — delays because of missed deadlines, incomplete applications, change of venue requests, and a lack of required financial and environmental reports. The holdup now is that Nordic failed to provide the needed reports when BEP was in town.

What has Nordic done for the city? Taken up endless hours of the voluntary Planning Board that has waded through thousands of pages of proposal, testimony and documentation, as well as sitting through hours of hearings. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars were spent on staff time, legal fees and perks for Nordic. (City Hall could not give me an exact accounting of staff time and dollars for this proposal.)

What are they doing for our community during the pandemic? Are they supporting organizations carrying on under tough conditions? Our local businesses are going out of their way to be of service. Instead, Nordic says it is focusing its resources elsewhere.

Neal Harkness mused that Belfast could now be reaping the rewards if Nordic had approval earlier. However, after three years of fundraising, Nordic is nowhere close to having the money to break ground. At the rate they’re going — $15 million for a $500 million Belfast facility plus a $400 million California one — it will be a decade before they raise the cash. Instead, the project is draining money from city coffers.

How long do we have to put up with this? Imagine what Belfast’s creative, can-do spirit could have done over the past three years if that money, time and energy hadn’t been sucked up by Nordic.

Linda Buckmaster

Belfast

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Seth Thayer | May 14, 2020 11:57

The comment above has nothing to do with the articles in the Republican Journal and should be removed.



Posted by: Ralph Stanley | May 13, 2020 17:07

Response to Hurley PenBay Pilot.

Please give us a break with your victimhood baloney. "People are dying, the world is locked down etc. etc., and NAF and the City council of Belfast are subject to the insensitivity of an opposition group who are steadfast in their endeavor." Last I looked, opposition to this project are equally subject to the pandemic as anyone else. Their families endure as does everyone else.
There are outliers with weak viewpoints on either side of this proposal by NAF. I fail to see much difference between the made up spew by the Fish are Okay fish knitters and the bliss ninnies who find life to be generally a burden.
"Tens of thousands of Belfast area people are out of work." The number is questionable. For Nordic purposes, anyone who doesn't live in Belfast doesn't count anyway so who's counting. Those pesky outliers.
Your business, Mr. one of a kind council person was a done, dead in the water proposition long before the pandemic reared its head. Sorry you weren't able to offload it as you have been wont to do.
Where are we in the "slog"?
Belfast promised the moon to Nordic when they sailed up in their longboats. Opposition started early and often. Nordic complained at the time that they were taken aback from the get go by the opposition in letters to the City manager. City manager played off the opposition then as an anomaly that would not amount to much.
Belfast council proceeds to essentially "spot zone" the entire area involved in this project surrounding the Little River ignoring the fact the jurisdiction for zoning changes was within Planning Board oversight. This was an intentional act on the part of the City Council. Subsequently, the Planning Board was spooned fed by the city planner and the city attorney, back dooring the city council in an after the fact approval. A lawsuit was involved at this time by a tax paying citizen calling the council on their illegalities. This was a "delay" orchestrated by the city council.
Former mayor was not onboard with NAF. She was also not a team player according to members of the council. They reined her in early and often to where she no longer was free to speak.
Candidates for council who opposed NAF actually did fairly well considering the difficulty of running against incumbents particularly with write in ballots.
Last ruling by a judge (only two for now) ruled the opposition had a right to continue their legal claim to ownership of the tidal lands afforded to them by a deed described in 1946 and reasserted in the 1990's. (This was a major screw up by Nordic not to have determined the ownership of the tidal lands when they had the opportunity to do so.)
Maine DMR was asked to consider the spoils unearthed by dredging and subsequent disposal of mercury laden soils that were never tested. NAF withheld information on all of this.
Hurley's assertion that neighbors refusing to join a lawsuit is misleading and intended to be so. Former Harriet Hartley property now owned by Jeff Mabee owns all nearly 12 acres of tidal land. There are no neighbors of consequence to this ownership. There are two but they do not own below the high water mark so they are of no consequence to any legal action. Hurley makes this up.
DEP has been asked repeatedly to delay NAF based on Right, Title and Interest to the tidal land. NAF has never shown ownership. Still has not shown ownership. Cannot show ownership but their application is on the table. You or I given the same circumstances would have to show without a doubt RTI. NAF so far has gotten a pass. They are in court now over this due to their creative legal team.
Army Corps of Engineers has already weighed in on the inadequacies of the NAF outflow/inflow pipes. Should NAF provide suitable plans to the Army Corp and permitting is granted, the Corps will not manage anything. Construction will either abide by the permit requirements or it will not.
Nordic continues to have many issues. It is self inflicted. The opposition has been effective but credit is due to NAF's incompetence.
Hurley's pep talk is lame. Belfast will move forward. It will not involve NAF.



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