FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Contact: City Manager Erin Herbig (207) 338-3370 x110
City of Belfast Planning Board Approves Nordic Aquafarms Permits
Board Unanimously Supports Five Permits for Future Salmon Farm
The Belfast Planning Board, at its meeting of December 22, 2020, granted final approval to each of the five City Permits associated with the Nordic Aquafarms project application. The vote on each of the five permits was unanimous. The approved permits include: Site Plan Permit, Zoning Use Permit, Shoreland Permit, Significant Groundwater Well Permit, Significant Water Intake, and Significant Water Discharge Permit.
“It has been three years since we selected Belfast for our project on the US east coast. This week the local permitting process came to an end,” explains Nordic Aquafarms President Erik Heim. “I want to thank our great employees in Maine, the City of Belfast, the Planning Board, and the many others in Belfast who have supported a robust permitting process. It has been a significant undertaking for all. The outcome is an economic development project with significant long-term benefits for Belfast. We look forward to next steps.”
The Board initiated its review of the Nordic applications on June 26, 2019. The Board, over the course of the next 18 months, conducted a total of 38 meetings, including 24 public hearings, specifically on the Nordic application. During the course of these many meetings, there were only three absences among the Board members.
“It has been a long, careful, and thorough process,” states City Councilor Mike Hurley. “My thanks to the Planning Board and Planning Department for their dedication and service.”
The individual permits establish Conditions of Approval with which Nordic Aquafarms must comply to construct its facility. Several of the Conditions focus on requirements that Nordic Aquafarms must meet to ensure local property owners and the community are not adversely affected by any construction or operation.
“This is going to be good for Belfast and for our region. The future of farmed aquaculture is land based and Nordic Aquafarms has proved themselves as being a good fit for Belfast,” explains Planning Board member Declan O’Connor and the Review Chair for the project. “This puts Belfast on the cutting edge to bring good jobs for our kids and this has been our aspiration.”
Permit requirements also establish strict City inspection requirements for project construction and requirements that Nordic must meet regarding the ongoing monitoring of project operations and reporting results of such monitoring to the City.
"The Belfast Planning Board, collectively and as individual members, carefully considered and digested a tremendous amount of information in the Nordic applications,” informs Wayne Marshall, Project Planner. “Testimony offered at the Board's hearings by Parties-in-Interest and the general public, and the actions of other permitting authorities, particularly the Department of Environmental Protection, and worked hard to develop good quality conditions that address potential issues associated with the permits it issued.”
“I applaud the hard work put in by members of the Planning Board and all City Code and Planning Department staff on behalf of our community,” remarks City Manager Erin Herbig, “Citizens should feel confident in the diligent permitting process both at the Municipal and State level to approve this important project. We thank Erik Heim and his team at Nordic Aquafarms for their commitment to Belfast as home for their future in Maine’s economy.”
The Planning Board's decisions on each of the five City Permits is subject to a potential administrative appeal to the Belfast Zoning Board of Appeals. An appeal must be filed within 30 days, or by January 21, and only individuals and organizations that the Planning Board has recognized as a Party-in-Interest or Nordic itself can file an appeal. The Zoning Board of Appeals is responsible for considering the record of the Planning Board, and deciding if the Planning Board properly considered the requirements of City Ordinances.