Belfast Zoning Boards of Appeals to begin Nordic Aquafarms hearings Feb. 18

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 6:15pm

    BELFAST — Upstream Watch, a nonprofit dedicated restoring the Little River, which empties into Penobscot Bay in Belfast, will be arguing Feb. 18 before the Belfast Zoning Board of Appeals as to why its members believe the December 2020 permit approvals for a $500 million land-based indoor salmon raising facility must be vacated.

    The meeting, to be held via Zoom, begins at 6 p.m., and can be viewed by the public via Livestream on the City of Belfast website,, and on BEL-TV.

    The city said that Upstream Watch, which is represented by Attorney David B. Losee, in Camden, alleges that the Belfast Planning Board did not properly interpret and apply City Ordinance requirements in issuing the following:

    • Site Plan Permit pursuant to Chapter 90, Site Plan;

    • Shoreland Permit pursuant to Chapter 82, Shoreland;

    • Zoning Use Permit pursuant to Chapter 102, Zoning;

    • Significant Groundwater Well Permit pursuant to Chapter 102, Zoning; and

    • Significant Water Intake and Significant Water Outfall/Discharge Pipe Permit pursuant to Chapter 102, Zoning.

    The first ZBA meeting on the Nordic appeal may likely be, “tabled until the next scheduled ZBA meeting, the date of which has not yet been determined,” according to the city’s Notes to Public. “The dates of all future meetings and any public hearings that may be conducted at said meetings will be posted on the City website; reference, planning and codes link, Zoning Board of Appeals - Nordic application.”

    Legal counsel for the Belfast Zoning Board of Appeals is Kate Grossman.


    Call to Order & Roll Call. Peter Nesin, Chair, Michael Nickerson, Douglas Smith, Roger Pickering and Dana Keene, regular members, and Lewis Baker, alternate member.

    Adoption of Agenda.

    1. Introductions: Kate Grossman, legal counsel to ZBA, Upstream Watch representatives, Nordic Aquafarms representatives and City of Belfast representatives.
    2. Board consideration of potential conflicts of interest and the members who will serve on the Upstream Watch administrative appeals.
    3. Board determination of standing for Upstream Watch to file an administrative appeal.
    4. Explanation by Attorney Grossman of the Administrative Appeal process for a Planning Board decision that is identified in City Code of Ordinances, Chapter 102, Zoning, Article II, Administration, Division 4, Appeals and Variances. Explanation will involve the process for conducting public hearings.
    5. Description of information presented to the ZBA regarding the administrative appeals filed by Upstream Watch.
    6. Discussion of the process the Board will use to conduct its review of the administrative appeals, and how it will render decisions on the appeals.
    7. Discussion of Board schedule for the review of the administrative appeals, including any public hearings.
    8. Other.
    9. Adjournment.


    In the appeal document, Attorney Losee wrote that the Belfast Planning Board allowed Nordic to ignore application requirements and substituted permit conditions, but it has “no authority or discretion to do that.”

    Losee listed a series of alleged application, ranging from noncompliant stormwater management standards to lighting and noise interference onto neighboring properties.

    “The authority to insist upon compliance with application requirements or to defer compliance with application requirements to permit conditions to be satisfied after the award of the permit does not exist,” said Losee. “Nor can it.”