Our April update detailed the status of our various lawsuits, demonstrating that we are winning our fight to protect the Penobscot Bay. While we are confident we will prevail, it’s important to understand the biggest hurdle is still before us: We must defeat the City of Belfast’s taking of Jeffery Mabee and Judith Grace’s land by eminent domain—a taking of PRIVATE property for the benefit of a private, foreign corporation.
Photo by Sally Brophy
The ramifications of this case cannot be overstated. Should the City of Belfast take the land unopposed, it would distort the long-settled purpose of eminent domain by allowing any parcel of land along the coast to be seized by the government for the benefit of a private corporation. Our homes, our businesses, our coastal communities are all at risk. In addition, the City's action would eliminate the conservation easement that protects the intertidal zone. This precedent would threaten all of Maine’s hard won coastal conservation, and indeed all conserved land throughout the State. This cannot stand. This case concerns everyone who lives in Maine, regardless of where they stand on Nordic or the factory farming of fish in Maine. Below is a brief outline of the situation. Upstream is gearing up to educate as many people as possible about this case and the consequences of losing it. Rest assured, we will continue to fight this with all we have, but we can’t succeed without your financial support. For this eminent domain case alone we must raise $150,000 by the end of 2023 in order to pay our legal fees so the need is truly urgent. Please pitch in and ask your friends and family to do the same.
Eminent Domain Summary
The City of Belfast has shown complete disregard for the current property owners (Mabee/Grace) as well as the people who owned the property before them.
The city has:
Taken the intertidal land from its owners to allow a foreign corporation to drastically disturb a fragile intertidal area in order to lay 3 massive inflow and discharge pipes. The outflow pipes would dump 7.7 million gallons/day of warm wastewater from the fish factory. Due to the circulation patterns in the bay there would be 14 days worth of this waste in the bay on any given day.
Requested the Attorney General (AG) overturn a conservation easement put in place to protect that intertidal zone. If the AG allows the city to do this, no conservation easement is safe.
Stripped away the protective covenant put in place over the land to limit the land use to residential purposes only.
We must win this eminent domain fight. All of the work that Upstream, Friends of Harriet Hartley and Local Citizens for Smart Growth have done to date will be in vain, and no waterfront property anywhere in Maine will be safe from the grasp of a government that has sided with a corporation over the interest and rights of its citizens and the long-term ecological health of its community. We are incredibly fortunate to have the best legal team in place to help us. We know that everyone is tired of this fight but we have to keep our foot on the gas and finish what we started. Please help if you can.
The Maine Law Court remanded our appeal of the BEP permits back to the BEP to reconsider their position that Nordic had “sufficient” title, right and interest (TRI) in the intertidal zone during the permitting process. Our win on the TRI case clarified beyond a doubt that Nordic never had TRI and therefore should not have received any permits at any time. We suspect that the BEP will listen to the AG and disregard this fact, but we are hopeful they will finally do the right thing and revoke these permits. There has been no schedule set for this process yet. We will keep you posted. On May 10, Upstream argued our appeal against the City of Belfast denying our standing to appeal the Planning Board permits. David Perkins made our case brilliantly and the justices seem to respond well. A decision on that appeal will be coming in the next month or so. Assuming we get the decision we expect, we will then be back in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals - and this time they will have to listen to us! Thank you, Amy Grant President Upstream Watch