While we are joyful and take great satisfaction with the ruling of the Maine Law Court (our Supreme Court) that favored our position that the rightful owners of what is the Harriet L. Conservation Area in Belfast are Jeffrey Mabee and Judith Grace, and that this decision should prevent the construction of the proposed Nordic Aquafarm, Inc., facility, there is much more to be considered.
- The case should never have had to reach the Law Court: As the Court ruling implied, it was a matter of a simple reading of the deeds and surveys that should not have been allowed to be challenged by Nordic or by local and State regulatory agencies in the first place.
- It took an extraordinary amount of time and money to defend the rightful owners. The State needs to devise a simpler and less expensive way for citizens to defend themselves against large well-heeled corporations and wealthy individuals who simply want what they want when they want it.
- It was evident from all of the hearings held about this project that the Nordic facility would have been an environmental, ecological and economic disaster for the Belfast Bay area, yet it took a legal challenge of property rights to determine the outcome. The DEP, BEP and other agencies, including the City of Belfast, failed on two accounts: Not determining who actually owned the land before proceeding to hold hearings and grant permits, licenses and leases to Nordic, thus imposing significant costs on the citizens who pay for these agencies, and then ignoring the overwhelming evidence presented to them.
- Our elected officials from the city on up to the state level are far too quick, secretive and gullible in accepting the promises made by for-profit large corporations. Caveat emptor.
- Finally, it appears that we may still have to mount a defense against the Belfast City Council’s planned constitutionally and statutorily improper use and abuse of its eminent domain powers to undermine the property rights upheld by the Law Court in the 2-16-2023 decision. Thus, the fight is not over. How much more taxpayer money needs to be wasted by the City and State?
Sidney R. Block is board president of the Friends of the Harriet L Hartley Conservation Area and lives in Northport
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