Jun 26, 2008

Sears Island "deal" opposition swells; JUPC-ites confronted at 6/25/08 public meeting

A glum row of Joint users Wednesday night felt the wrath of island and bay huggers ....The audience, the public who attended the presentation and question and answer session overwhelmingly oppose ANY development on Sears Island. Listen to all audio recordings from meetings.
Following the introductory remarks ,
MDOT and Maine Coast heritage Trust tried the argument that Sears Island faces total development should the state not get what it wants this instant. They tried to raise spectres of residential sprawl covering the entire island. But the people Wednesday night weren't buying it

A series of public speakers followed the dog and pony show. A local resident whose loved ones ashes were scattered on Sears Island spoke with sorrow at the thought of the deceased being under thundering container port. She was followed by members of port opponent group Fair Play for Sears Island A resident of South Thomaston spoke of the contradictions between the state's process and the reality of the island.

As Harlan McLaughlin noted, Sears Island is managed pursuant to passed into law LD 277. The bill requires legislative approval for any new uses to the present natural areas with transmission towers. Not to mention the existing MOU between Searsport and MDOT that gives already gives control of the 600 acres to Searsport....and Searsport has land use ordinances.

No, the real danger, Mclaughlin warned, the real danger of development comes from the port wannabes and the eco-world people.

Others spoke; some passionately, some with disdain for the secrecy and political maneuvering of the MDOT process that had brought the island and bay to this situation.

Maine state senator Dennis Damon attended. Chair of both the legislature's transportation committee and its marine resources committee, Damon has made MDOT's Sears Island port plan a priority in the Transportation Committee. Yet, despite the well understood serious impacts to Penobscot Bay's marine fisheries that would stem from a port being built athwart the bay's most important groundfish and wild salmon nursery area, Damon has not broached the subject of the port plan at all with the marine resources committee.

Asked by Penobscot Bay Watch executive director Ron Huber during the Q&A session that closed the event if he would schedule a Sears Island review at the Marine Resources Committee, the senator first suggested that the legislature's conservation committee might be a better venue. But pressed on the marine fishery impacts being worthy of the marine resources committee's attention, Senator Damon agreed to bring the topic up with that committee. Huber met later with Damon and discussed the kinds of materials that the committee should receive.

Scot Dickerson of Maine Coast Heritage Trust seemed peeved at the growth in opposition to the port plan and delivered a closing statement dismissive of the natural resources of the island and warning of terrible consequesnces fo the island if the port plan was not adopted.

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