Planning Board hears first Nordic presentation

By Stephanie Grinnell | Jul 05, 2019

Belfast — Nordic Aquafarms presented its lengthy city application to the Planning Board June 26.

The Norwegian company hopes to build a land-based salmon farm on property along the Little River near the Belfast-Northport line. During the past 18 months, it has met resistance from several local groups that are concerned about the environmental and visual impacts in the city and the bay.

Director of Codes and Planning Wayne Marshall emphasized the application submission to the city “is the start of a new process.” He said the extensive application — five volumes thick — in his opinion, is complete and it is appropriate for the Planning Board to proceed. The application was received by the city on May 28 and reviewed by Marshall, who was recently named assistant code enforcement officer specifically to handle the massive submission.

“There is sufficient information in the application to present to the Planning Board,” Marshall said, adding the Planning Board will make its own determination on the completeness of the application and can ask for additional information.

No comment from the public or the board was accepted. The presentation by Nordic describing its fully built-out facility — which will be constructed in two phases — is available on the city website. As well, the June 26 meeting can be viewed on the city site.

The next step for the city is a site walk, scheduled for Wednesday, July 10, at 5 p.m. The following day, Planning Board members will meet again to set a schedule to address the application. In the case of inclement weather, the days will reverse, Marshall said. No public comment will be accepted either day and Marshall cautioned those wishing to join the site walk to dress appropriately for rough terrain.

Marshall directed the public to the city website, where the full application can be viewed and said the public comment period is currently open — email public@cityofbelfast.org or regular mail to Belfast City Hall, 131 Church St., Belfast ME 04915. He also warned citizens against engaging Planning Board members in conversation about the application and said all questions and concerns should go through him.

“They need to be able to remove themselves and only consider rules and what’s submitted,” Marshall said.

He outlined the sections of city code the board will use in reviewing the application, which include shoreland permitting (chapter 82), site plan review (chapter 90) and zoning (chapter 102).

Nordic also has several state applications that will be handled by Maine Board of Environmental Protection. The board next meets July 18 but an agenda has not yet been released.

In the meantime, other groups on both sides of the issue continue to meet and discuss the proposed salmon farm.

Local Citizens for Smart Growth, a group opposed to the project, meets Sunday, July 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Belfast Free Library.

On Monday, July 15, there will be a meeting at Bayside Community Hall, 813 Shore Road, Northport, from 6 to 7 p.m., sponsored by Upstream Watch and members of the Bayside community. Upstream Watch also is opposed to the project.

Another new group, The Fish Are Okay, are supporters of the process. It recently hosted an organizational meeting and posts regularly to its Facebook page, though no additional meeting dates are apparent. The page describes the group as “ ... people who believe that the city of Belfast, Maine, and Nordic Aquaculture ought to be able to conduct the rather rigorous regulatory and permitting processes with common sense respectful involvement from interested parties.”

Comments (1)
Posted by: Eric Schrader | Jul 05, 2019 16:35

I hope Wayne Marshall crosses all the T's and dot's all the i's because these opposition groups are going to be swarming around city hall like locust. The lawsuit initiated by Ellie Daniels seemed have been started by some possible loose scheduling of meetings at City Hall behind closed doors or doing things out of sequence, otherwise, their case would have no merit and would not have cost the City over $ 58k and climbing to date. Since the submittal is voluminous, the City should hire consultants, if necessary, to go thru the these volumes of data, since Sadie Lloyd is leaving the City and they're advertising for her replacement. The planning board, made up of laymen/laywomen, can't be expected to adequately understand the highly technical data and Wayne Marshall cannot be expected to do the review himself. Let's hope the City gets this right the first time and not have further litigation coming down the road.

 

 



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