Letters, Sept. 6, 2018

Sep 06, 2018

Apples and orange

In response to Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steve Ryan’s letter in our local newspapers recently, I would like to add a few points that also need consideration.

Mr. Ryan’s statement that there has been passionate debate over the proposed Nordic Aquafarms (NAF) development is certainly true; however, the statement makes it seem that this debate has been going on from the very beginning of the process. In fact there were no public hearings before putting the land under contract.

The state Public Utilities Commission requires a public process that includes a hearing and then an eight-month waiting period to allow for ample public participation. The hearing was held in March, and then the city petitioned the PUC to waive the eight-month public process period to meet the terms of the contract with Nordic.

However, state statute mandates that any significant changes to the Comprehensive Plan must begin with study and recommendations from a planning committee, and ample opportunity for public information and input. Then the planning committee makes recommendations for any zoning amendments that might be made to conform with  the Comprehensive Plan. This was not done.

Now the city is in the position of backtracking by having the Planning Board do what it needed to do last spring. But this still does not address the lack of citizen input. Also, the Comprehensive Plan was amended after the zoning, which is completely out of order, and without planning committee or citizen input.

I agree with Mr. Ryan that it is unreasonable to have  companies prove that they will have a ”sustainable and sufficient market 30 years from now.” However, the businesses mentioned by Mr. Ryan  by way of comparison are apples. NAF is an orange. No Belfast businesses are taking millions of gallons of water from an aquifer. Nor are any businesses producing effluents that NAF plans to produce and none are dumping into the bay.

The vastly different nature of this salmon farm, the unproven — at this scale — technology involved, the unknown effects of the effluent on marine life, and the destruction of a pristine forest enjoyed by generations of citizens and wildlife need different standards.

The long-term effects of this project are unknown. Therefore it seems reasonable to say that the “well-established” criteria Mr. Ryan refers to are not enough. What NAF is proposing has never been done before.

“Contriving” new criteria as Mr. Ryan suggests is not the point. To err on the side of caution is wise. Considering different standards is prudent. Caring about our natural resources is honorable.

Objecting, opposing, modifying, or even preventing, by legal means, this potentially harmful development is the right and obligation of those who believe in democracy.

John G.Pincince

Lincolnville

Stakes getting higher

Last week’s announcement that Nordic Aquafarms has placed 14 additional acres belonging to Mathews Brothers under contract has fanned the flames of local concerns.

Should we now be worrying that the fish factory will bring its access road in from the Perkins Road? A personal email sent to one of the abutters suggests that the additional property will allow for better buffers which, because the new boundary is nearly treeless, will be created by mounding the earth up high and planting trees on the top.

Is this sufficient to “protect, maintain, and develop an attractive, safe, and healthy environment”?

The city of Belfast continues to avoid its obligations under state law to engage in a real process of community-wide planning before considering and adopting zoning changes that might allow the proposed industrial-scale Nordic Aquafarm on land adjacent to the Little River Reservoir.

The zoning and comprehensive plan amendments approved by the city in April are the subject of a lawsuit pending in Maine Superior Court. Instead of waiting for a decision from the court, the city is pursuing a strategy of an after-the-fact effort to fix the errors it made in April. It is attempting to convince the Planning Board to recommend the same zoning amendments the city approved illegally in April. However, it is still ignoring the state law requirement of engaging in a real community-wide planning process.

The new amendments will also be challenged in court. We anticipate they will be just as inconsistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan as the April amendments. And, the city’s after-the-fact attempt to seek recommendations from the Planning Board will not satisfy the state law requirements to engage in real community-wide planning before amending a zoning ordinance or amending the Comprehensive Plan.

If the court rules in our favor, both the April and October zoning amendments will be declared null and void. Any land use permits that might be issued to Nordic relying on the zoning amendments should also be declared void. If Nordic moves forward with any zoning permit applications, it will do so at its own risk.

All of this could be avoided by either waiting for a decision from the court or starting over in a manner that fully complies with the requirements of state law.

There will be numerous opportunities for citizens to be heard in the next few weeks, including two public City Council meetings prior to a vote, once again, on the zoning amendments. In addition, watch for notices about a public hearing that is required by the DEP to be held by Nordic Aquafarms should they go forward in beginning to file their permits.

Rather than being another polished marketing presentation, this will be a refreshing rubber-meets-the-road opportunity to ask real questions and get real answers. The DEP will be listening.

The stakes continue to get bigger, for the city, for Nordic, and most importantly, for those of us who live, work, and pay taxes here.

Ellie Daniels

Belfast

Many voices in opposition

Regarding the op-ed recently published in the Bangor Daily News, written by Eric Heim in advocacy of the proposed land-based salmon "farm" for Belfast, I have watched the emergence of this proposal, and have several concerns:

1) An acquacultural concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) on this enormous scale is unprecedented, not only in its extraction of geological water, but as well in its production of harmful effluent into Penobscot Bay. Therefore its expected environmental impact is theoretical and cannot be fully assessed/vetted; and,

2) It is noteworthy that Mr. Heim's company is not allowed to implement such a plan in Norway, not withstanding his claims of wonderful economic synergies, and general benefit (one can only wonder why Norway doesn't leap at the opportunity to have such a fish farm); and,

3) There has been considerable doubt raised in the community of Belfast as to whether the permitting process and the preliminary work on the ground, has been properly (lawfully) conducted.

Many voices of Belfast Citizens have been raised in reasonable opposition to this plan, and deserve to be heard, through the deliberations of their duly elected municipal representatives, and the state and local institutions that are charged with protecting their land, their waters, and their community well-being.

Brian Athorp

Dedham

Visit Belfast

I fell so hard that I broke out both front eye teeth and cracked two more upper teeth and knocked out a filling on my lower teeth. All of this dislocated my left jaw. The thing that is so amazing is the heavy traffic going both ways on Route 1 in Belfast, Maine, stopped and dozens of people helped me up and helped clean the blood off my right cheek, upper lip and chin. This is liberal Democrats country, but they all could not do enough for me.

I turned down the ambulance and was given directions to the Waldo General ER. The ER was fantastic with doctors and nurses that were first class with up-to-date CAT scan equipment. They even gave me a dentist's name to call for help. Our landlord gave us the same doctor.

After waiting until Tuesday for a dentist appointment, Dr. Allison Piper took care of my damaged mouth and the same day fixed my partial so that I could eat again. They treated us like family.

We later went to eat at Rollie's Bar and Grill we were treated to dinner and drinks by the sweetest couple we did not know. I keep shaking my head because I love Okies but these Maine people are heads above Okies.

If you are looking for a great place with super great people, then visit Belfast and all of Maine. You will fall in love with Maine.

Joe Bray

Oklahoma City, Okla.

Searsport Senior Day

Aug. 2 was a very hot, humid day, but it did not stop about 125 people from attending Senior Day at the public safety building in Searsport. Vendors, speakers, beano, music and lunch were enjoyed by all. The even could not be held without all the help I receive from many townspeople — the use of the building, Fire Department in cleaning the bay, James setting up the speaker system, Bud moving the truck, my crew — Jess, Jenn, Jayne — for preparing the lunch, beano caller Colby, Wayne for bringing in all the tables, Sam and Sara Jo in the kitchen and passing out beano papers and doing whatever was asked of them.

To Angler's, Tozier's and Swan Lake Grocery, Wayne and Norm, this couldn't be Senior Day without you, thank you! I know Loraine and Brenda, my helpers, were watching and looking down on me that day — I could hear Brenda say, "Git 'er done!"

A huge thank you to my speakers: Sheriff Jeff Trafton, Town Manager James Gillway, paramedic Dave Walsh, EMA Director Bud Rivers and Police Chief Dick LaHaye. Much information was given to the audience.

Thank you to the many vendors for the information, raffles and giveaways you provided. Thank you to Lorraine for the music you provided, it is always so enjoyed.

If you missed us this year, we will return in August 2019. Again, thank you!

Sandra Otis-Anderson

Searsport

Recycle e-waste

Please join the Belfast Rotary Club on Saturday, Sept. 22, for a recycling event. Take advantage of this free service, to dispose of documents that identity thieves regularly use to commit fraud — old bills, receipts, junk mail, account statements, and unused pre-approved offers of credit. As many as 9 million Americans have their identity stolen every year and shredding documents helps prevent thieves from accessing personal information.

In addition, we will be collecting unwanted electronic waste (e-waste) items. Most all electronics accepted. Please view our website for details. Obsolete TVs and computer components are the most common items to be recycled.

The Waldo County Sheriff's Department will also be onsite collecting unwanted medications.

The Rotary Club recycling event is being held to benefit one or more of our charitable programs. Donations will be requested.

Please bring your outdated documents, e-waste, and unwanted medications to the Belfast Public Work’s Department parking lot (115 Congress St., Belfast) between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. This drop-off location will have a shred truck onsite to securely shred all of your documents while you watch. After being shredded, all paper materials will be 100-percent recycled. This event is open to the public. Shredding services will be provided by Records Management Center.

Please Note: All residents and local business are welcome. Large loads (10-plus boxes of paper or 10-plus e-waste components) require prior approval of the Belfast Rotary Club. No need to remove staples, paperclips, or binder clips.

For further information, please call 338-3704 or view our website at belfastrotary.org.

Doug Smith

Belfast Rotary Club

Shorter lives

While conservative political forces and the health insurance lobby are gleefully dismantling the foundations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we should pause for a moment and recall just how poorly our private, health care-if-you-can-afford-it system has worked.

To check into the question, I pulled out two 5-year-old newspaper stories about a 404-page study comparing our current system with those in 16 other countries. The bottom line? Americans lead shorter lives than Western Europeans, Australians, Japanese and Canadians.

The 2013 study was compiled by a panel of experts from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. Covered on Jan. 10, 2013, by The Los Angeles Times in a story headlined, “U.S. fares far worse than peer nations in health report,” and on Jan. 16 by The Washington Post in a column entitled, “America flunks its checkup,” the report presented some very grim findings. Sadly, all of them remain true today.

Fact: American men had the lowest life expectancy among men in the 17 countries studied.

Fact: American women had the second-lowest life expectancy.

Fact: America scored “below average” in nine different categories: (1) infant mortality and low birth weight; (2) adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; (3) HIV and AIDS infections; (4) drug-related deaths; (5) obesity and diabetes; (6) heart disease; (7) chronic lung disease; (8) disability; and (9) injury and homicides.

Fact: Even the richest and most secure among us are not doing much better. The panel chair, Steven H. Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said: “Even Americans who are white, insured, have college educations and seem to have healthy behaviors are in worse health than similar people of other nations.”

Would we fare any better under a single-payer health care system? Why, yes, we would…because we already do! The report also found that the U.S. mortality rate is the highest of the 17 countries until Americans hit age 50. Then it drops to second-highest until we hit 70. But by the time American seniors hit 80, we have some of the longest life expectancies in the world. Why?

Partly it is social Darwinism — survival of the economically fit (i.e., fortunate) in a health care system that rations access to health care. But mostly it is the fact that, at age 65, Americans do enter a single-payer system, only we call it “Medicare.”

We are past the point of learning from this study and several reports like it. The reality that Americans have one of the most expensive, least effective health care systems in the world is a bitter pill. But if we don’t accept it, we will never change it. It is time to demand our political elites muster the human decency to “bite the bullet” and commit to a true revolution in healthcare…single-payer. Everybody is in; everybody contributes; everybody wins.

Andrew Stevenson

Belfast

Support Maine Allcare

I wholly endorse Phil Cayer's recent call in the Bangor Daily News for universal health care in Maine, and in our nation. The existing patchwork of for-profit insurance in America leaves far too many of our fellow human beings without adequate care throughout their lives.

We should follow in the successful and much more highly civilized path that many countries take with an efficient, single-payer, government-administered system that truly serves all its people. We know it can work — Medicare has only one-tenth of the administrative costs involved with the bewildering system imposed on us now.

It is time we changed for the better, and we are rapidly reaching a tipping point where a majority of Americans realize that health care is not only for those who can afford it — it is a human right guaranteed and sustained by a civilized society. And we can only guarantee that right by taking the profit motive out of it.

Please make sure that you vote for candidates who endorse Maine Allcare.

Diane Oltarzewski

Belfast

Vote Herbig

I’ve traveled to most of the states in this country, and when I tell people that I’m from Maine, they get a starry-eyed look and say something like, “I really want to go to (or go back to) Maine…it’s so beautiful there.” The scenic, uncrowded, unpolluted loveliness of our state is why tourism is such a huge economic engine bringing money in and creating jobs.

We need to vote for candidates who will protect our beautiful environment, and Erin Herbig is one of them. She is running for state Senate, and has a strong history supporting legislation that keeps Maine a desirable place both to live and to visit.

Please vote for Erin Herbig — a lifelong Mainer who loves this state and its natural resources, which are integral to our quality of life and the way many Mainers earn a living — through fisheries, forestry, farming and tourism.

Janet Redfield

Lincolnville

A winner

I have known Erin Herbig since her days as a state champion athlete at BAHS. I have followed her political career with growing admiration, including her selection as House majority leader for the current legislative session.

She has shown herself to be hard-working, responsive, enlightened about her votes for bills and totally committed to bettering life in rural outposts like Waldo County. It is encouraging to see these qualities in a young woman like Erin.

I support her campaign to become the county's next senator. She was, and still is, a winner. And a huge benefit to having her as our next senator is that we'll all be winners, too. Can't beat that.

Jay Davis

Belfast

 

Comments (2)
Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Sep 09, 2018 15:11

I have heard mention of the State of Maine DEP industrial discharge upcoming public notices posted by the State HOWEVER......

According to the City of Belfast industrial zone 62-68 industrial discharge

Ord. No. 45-1999, § 300.8, 2-1-2000

No discharge into Belfast Harbor OR any body of water unless the discharging party affirmatively proves to the City reasonable satisfaction that the proposed industrial waste discharge will, at all times, meet the state department of environmental protection and United States Environmental Agency discharge standards applicable to the City's waste water treatment as from time to time established.

 

Key word is the State DEP  " AND"  USEPA so the State public hearing but no mention about the Federal EPA compliance and public hearing.

 

Or is the State DEP going to enforce the USEPA standard in addition to the States requirements not requiring a review by the Feds????



Posted by: MARY JEAN CROWE | Sep 06, 2018 15:32

Thank you John Pincine for a clear outline of concerns regarding the fish factory.  Thank you Ellie Daniels and Brian Athorp for your letters here, and to Kenneth Hall on the Op Ed by Michael Hurley.  All offer intelligent and rational reasons why the fish factory is NOT in the best interest of Belfast and area citizens, particularly in this time of climate change, when Arridification is transforming the land across the country (and even in Maine).  Conservation of our precious natural resources, specifically water, are needed.



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