GOULDSBORO – The Planning Council has started its review of city regulations, initially focusing on the Land Use Ordinance, following the recent voter-approved moratorium on fish farming development. The ban took effect retroactively on September 15 and is set to expire in March.
The move follows last week’s in-person council meeting with Rudman Winchell attorney Tim Pease, who advised members to focus their attention on local city regulations rather than exploring whether the city has authority over state waters. In state waters, the Maine Departments of Marine Resources and Environmental Protection and the United States Army Corps of Engineers have clear and specific jurisdiction under law over the companies of the United States. finfish aquaculture over 10 acres.
At the December 20 meeting, Pease said he would examine whether Gouldsboro had authority beyond its limits on earth.
“It’s kind of a question of how far a city can go to regulate on water,” he told the board.
In preparation for the session, Pease had reviewed Gouldsboro’s land use, shorelines, site plan, solid waste and port ordinances, and the overall plan. The lawyer concluded that the orders lacked sufficient detail and depth to exercise authority over noise levels, lighting, potential truck wear and tear on local roads and other issues of a fish farm finned over 10 acres. He recommended that council look at Maine’s laws on land use planning, land use and shoreline zoning to strengthen those ordinances.
In addition, the lawyer advised the board of directors to review other communities in Maine that have had oceanic fish farms operating seafood processing and fish hatcheries on land within their own. limits.
âI think you have the bones you need, but I suggest you strengthen these sections,â Pease told the board.
In the site plan ordinance, the lawyer noted that applicants must demonstrate that they have the financial and technical capacity to carry out their projects. No specific requirements, however, are stated, such as citing examples of past operations and their history and success.
Planning council member Jay Higgins asked Pease if performance bonds could be attached to an application for a municipal permit to protect the city and ensure the applicant meets his obligations. And would these obligations be retained if a fish farm, for example, was acquired and managed by a new owner?
âGenerally the terms go with the owner of this operation,â Pease replied.
In his opinion, Dick Fisher, a resident of Prospect Harbor, said the ladder was the biggest problem. He says the venture proposed by American Aquafarms to raise 66 million Atlantic salmon per year and process that volume of fish in town is out of scale when it comes to the town’s past and present operations related to the Peach. He said the heavy hauling of that volume of seafood – and the associated diesel smoke – would pollute the air and cause excessive wear and tear on local roads.
âI don’t know how well we can come up with regulations that address this concern. We have to decide what we want our city and our waterfront to become, âsaid Fisher. âWe have to be very careful with the projects and their size. “
Any proposed ordinance change would require public hearings and would ultimately be approved or rejected by voters at the annual municipal meeting.
Before the moratorium expires on March 16, council may seek to extend the freeze on municipal licensing for fish farms larger than 10 acres. The city, however, will have to show that “reasonable progress” has been made in addressing the issues these companies pose in its ordinances.
Planning council members agreed to study the land use ordinance first, each doing their own research, and report back at the next council meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 4. at the Prospect Harbor Women’s Club building. The session will also be accessible via Zoom.