Planning Board to finish public hearings on Nordic application at next meeting

By Kendra Caruso | Jan 13, 2020
Photo by: Kendra Caruso Upstream Watch gives testimony Jan. 8 in opposition to Nordic Aquafarms' land-based fish farm proposal during a Planning Board meeting at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center.

Belfast — Opponents of Nordic Aquafarms' proposal for a land-based fish farm will have their final chance to speak at the next Planning Board meeting after public testimony Wednesday about the company’s permit applications was cut short because of time constraints.

It was standing room only as dozens of opponents filled the room at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center Jan. 8. Director of Codes and Planning Wayne Marshall asked audience members to speak about new points relating to the overall project to reduce repetitive testimony.

Despite his request, there were multiple redundancies in public comments. Many speakers were concerned about how the project could contribute to human-induced climate change through pollution and carbon emissions.

One resident equated Nordic’s development to another wave of European colonialism. A Lincolnville resident insisted that many young families like hers would move away from the area if the development were approved.

Diane Braybrook, a member of The Fish Are Okay, a local organization supporting the proposal, did not testify about the application, but made several heated statements about opponents testifying against it.

Upstream Watch, an opposition group, was approved for a 45-minute comment period.

David Losee, Upstream Watch member, started the discussion by stating “I think we have fish fatigue, and I expect you do, too.” Afterward, he let four consultants speak about topics from air emissions to waste output into the bay, most of which has been covered previously.

Upstream consultant John Kruger argued that Nordic should have used a brownfield site, a property previously used for development, to minimize its ecological impact in the region.

The organization went on to question Nordic's capability to bring the development to fruition because of all the permit changes it says have been made.

One Upstream consultant said that he did not think the city and state would reach their goals of reducing carbon emissions if the project were approved.

The last Upstream consultant to speak, local engineer Mike Lannan, criticized the emission numbers Nordic submitted, because he said they did not match up with models that he developed. Upstream’s 45-minute comment period and one-minute extension ended before he could finish his presentation.

Many in the room complained that the board did not grant the group more time to finish its presentation. Losee noted that Nordic has had no time constraints when talking to the board, then walked back to his seat in the crowd.

Marshall stated matter-of-factly that Upstream requested a 45-minute comment period, not longer, and that the board approved its request within two hours. He said the board planned for a 45-minute presentation from Upstream, and that it needed to leave time for others to comment at the meeting.

Maine Lobstering Union attorney Kim Ervin Tucker discussed issues with Nordic's dredging the bay to put in its outflow pipes. She argued that there is mercury in the sediments from former companies along the Penobscot River that polluted the bay. She worried that stirring up the mercury would close off the area to lobster fishing.

She called upon the board to require Nordic to do more comprehensive testing for mercury in the area. The company conducted tests of the sediment at various depths, the deepest being 6 feet. Tucker criticized the methods used to test the sediments as flawed.

Intervenor Jeffrey Mabee urged the board to reconsider right, title and interest issues, which are being disputed in court between himself and neighbors Janet and Richard Eckrote. He stated that the Eckrotes do not have a legal right to enter into an intertidal zone easement with Nordic because they don’t own the intertidal zone in front of their house.

In recent court proceedings on the issue, the Eckrotes’ lawyer stated that they never said they owned the intertidal zone. Tucker, who also represents Mabee and his partner, Judith Grace, argues that this nullifies the easement agreement because past judges have ruled that easements cannot be issued by people who do not own the land in question.

There were audible signs of frustration from audience members at the Jan. 8 meeting when Acting Chairman Declan O’Connor announced the public hearing was ending. The board decided to continue the hearing at the next meeting Jan. 15 so everyone has a chance to speak.

Nordic Project Director Ed Cotter said he was disappointed with the five minutes he had to refute some of the issues raised by opponents during the meeting, but added that he was satisfied that he would have the opportunity to testify at the next board meeting.

After the public hearings are finished, the board will go into several weeks of reviewing the application to check its accuracy and verify that all paperwork has been submitted. It is unknown how long the board will take to review and vote on the application, Marshall said.

Unless a change to the application is submitted while in review, the last public hearing will be Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Hutchinson Center.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Jan 17, 2020 17:51

The applicant Himself has finally admitted in the latest filing that CS1O1 route

is not and cannot bewithin the rule and law  “littoral zone” location of the applicant purported “shoreland” property, detailed by   cost reasons and engineering reasons explained by several paragraphs that read like an engineering version of the Waldo County young man who is caught driving without a registration, drivers license, no muffler, speeding and inebriated to boot!

I refer the readers to the amended application itself for the details of this shopping list of, ‘Poor Me, I am just a wealthy CEO of a corporation from away trying to dump excrement into the shallow waters of Penobscot Bay”

“Please ignore the rules “?

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Jan 17, 2020 17:46

Actually in reference to you needing to bend over to kiss up. Could care less about your gay household.

Posted by: Seth Thayer | Jan 15, 2020 05:24

Thanks for your personal attack rant, Ralph..."They bend backwards while you bend forward" . What a great line...I assume you are trying to make a stab about my sexuality here??  Yes, I am gay and I have a husband and we have with it. Your response shows your lack of credibility.

Posted by: Seth Thayer | Jan 14, 2020 07:55

Nordic has bent over backwards to address the concerns of its project in Belfast.  I fully support their project for its forward-looking plan to address future food production needs.  Waters are warming, and fish are disappearing.  In the 18th century, huge schools of cod roiled in the waters off the coast.  That is no longer true.  What happens when fishing waters off the coast yield such anemic numbers of fish that it makes commercial fishing obsolete?  Belfast would be at the forefront of future food production in America.

Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Jan 13, 2020 21:47

Do the plans of a building this size have a sprinkler system for fire protection and ADA compliant?  The planning board has allowed these rules to slip through the cracks in a couple of project downtown in the last year or so.

Posted by: Carrie Bacon | Jan 13, 2020 16:32

I have great concerns about the effect of effluents from Nordic's proposed salmon processing site on the ecology of Penobscot Bay.  If the commercial salmon farming is such a great idea, why didn't Nordic do it in their own country of Norway?  I question the effect of the great volume of effluent released on an hourly and daily basis by Nordic against the cleansing tides in the bay, which only change the water twice a day.  Is that truly enough to remove all of that material?  When it is dumped hour after hour, day by day, week by week, month after month. Might be that it would be less toxic if the entire population surrounding Penobscot Bay were to urinate in it instead of Nordic dumping it's waste in it...

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