2006 February 24
by Marie Jones Holmes
The Robbinston Planning Board unanimously approved an application for land use and development code permits for the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility to be constructed at Mill Cove. The action followed a presentation by Downeast LNG principals Dean Girdis and Rob Wyatt at the February 16 meeting of the planning board.
Town attorney John Churchill told board members, "The planning board is not making a political decision. It is making a decision based on the criteria that we are going to go over one by one." Churchill also stressed it was not a matter of whether the board is for or against LNG. "What Downeast LNG is asking the town to do is give them a conditional permit to develop an LNG facility consistent with the documents that were provided." The permit approval is contingent on Downeast LNG obtaining the necessary state and federal permits.
The LNG proposal calls for a pier and one or possibly two storage tanks. Substantially all of the facilities proposed by Downeast LNG lie within either the Shoreland Zone as defined in that ordinance, or in the Management District as defined in the Land Use and Development Code. The pipeline runs across the Shoreland Zone. The only facilities to be located in the General District, as defined in the code, will be one or more roadways for access to the facility, utility connectors, signage and pipeline connections. Pier facilities extending into Passamaquoddy Bay will be continuations of structures allowed by existing zoning.
The second planning board permit, a land use permit, was requested for the interior project property area, inland of both the Shoreland Zone and of the General District. The planning board reviewed the 25-page application, which dealt with 13 impact standards pertaining to water, water pollution, sewage disposal, air pollution, soil erosion, noise, surface water drainage, exterior lighting, landscape enhancement, road access, setback and height, vehicular access and parking. The items were considered one by one in swift fashion with almost no comment or questions from either board members or the seven members of the public who were in attendance.
Two questions asked by one member of the public concerned noise and odors that might be associated with the facilities. Wyatt said Downeast has already committed to a noise control agreement with the town of Robbinston. "Fortunately, noise generation from an LNG terminal is not a significant issue." The Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Labor and other federal agencies require new construction projects to undergo review of noise factors. Natural gas is odorless but odor is added to it in order to detect any leaks. The addition of a substance to provide an odor is done in a contained facility.
According to the Downeast LNG application, lighting designers will use every resource available to limit light intrusion onto surrounding areas. Wyatt also discussed available water supply and water pollution. Downeast plans to use one or more groundwater wells to supply potable water and there would be no adverse impact on the town's groundwater supply. According to the application, there is no indication that the project would result in a discharge of water that would negatively affect the environment.
Following a quick review of each item in the application, the planning board approved the application and adjourned the meeting.
Earlier in the meeting it was noted that the planning board had received a petition that asked them to table the application, but the board had been advised by the Maine Municipal Association that it could not do that.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.