BELFAST — A status conference convened lawyers for all the parties involved in the lawsuit brought against the City of Belfast by Eleanor Daniels and Donna Broderick to Waldo County Superior Court Oct. 10.
Both plaintiffs live on property abutting the planned location for the proposed 40-acre land-based salmon farm, which is largely owned by Belfast Water District, which is named as a Party In Interest on the lawsuit.
The company behind the proposed salmon farm, Nordic Aquafarms, Inc., is the second Party In Interest listed in the suit. The Norwegian company expects the endeavor to cost into the hundreds of millions of dollars, but since the start, there have been concerns and people critical of the plan, which continues to move ahead.
On Aug. 8, Daniels and Broderick issued a statement, saying the City of Belfast, “abused its powers by approving April 17 zoning and comprehensive plan amendments without following state statute and local zoning ordinance process for planning board and community involvement.”
Responses from all three involved parties were filed within weeks of the lawsuit, with all three planning to use an affirmative defense. Cornell Law School defines an affirmative defense as a “defense in which the defendant introduces evidence, which, if found to be credible, will negate criminal or civil liability, even if it is proven that the defendant committed the alleged acts.”
A scheduling order in the case was made during the Oct. 10 status conference, giving the plaintiffs “a minimal discovery period,” of 45 days, during which they are to initiate interrogatories and make requests for the production of pertinent documents.
Interrogatories refer to written questions from the plaintiffs that must be answered.
Should lawyers for Daniels and Broderick determine a deposition is needed, it must be completed within 60 days, which would be Nov. 8.
While the City of Belfast is listed as the defendant in the suit, both Nordic Aquafarms, Inc., and the Belfast Water District are listed as Parties In Interest.
Neither the City of Belfast nor the two Parties In Interest “anticipate the need for the conducting of any discovery,” according to court documents.
Following the last day of discovery allowed in the order, the involved parties will be given an additional 45 days to file with the Court a “stipulation of uncontested facts pertinent to the determination of the pending declaratory judgment complaint.”
After the filing of the involved parties’ stipulation of facts, they can either jointly, or separately file a request for an evidentiary hearing, or file dispositive motions. This must take place within 30 days after the filing of their stipulation of facts.
According to to the scheduling order, any request for an evidentiary hearing “will include an outline of the issues to be presented or addressed in such a hearing and the estimate of the time needed for such a hearing.”
Responses to any dispositive motions will be undertaken in accordance with the applicable Maine Rules of Civil Procedure.
Nordic Aquafarms meeting draws large crowd wanting to learn more about salmon farm
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org