Bucksport fish farm advances

BUCKSPORT — Whole Oceans submitted its final site plan review application to the town of Bucksport Monday.

The Planning Board is scheduled to review the application at its Sept. 3 meeting, said Jeff Hammond, Bucksport’s code enforcement officer. The board convenes at 6:30 p.m.

The 409-page application package outlines the company’s plans to use a portion of the former Verso mill property for its proposed land-based recirculating aquaculture facility.

Whole Oceans will eventually employ 150 people once the aquaculture facilities have been constructed and are operational, according to the application.

The company has purchased 103 acres of the mill property from AIM Development Corp. The total area of the proposed construction, which will be completed in phases, is 945,000 square feet, according to a copy of the company’s land use/building permit application.

Brewer engineering firm CES is handling the application and permitting process on behalf of Whole Oceans.

The property is located in an industrial zone and the proposed use, growing farm-raised Atlantic salmon, is considered industrial.

Among other improvements, the company will change land elevations, construct buildings, bring in underground utilities and pave access ways, CES stated.

Whole Oceans will use the two existing entrances on Route 15 that were used for the mill operations for access.

Parking will remain across the street, on the east side of Route 15 and the signalized crosswalk is to be maintained for pedestrian access, the application stated.

Security fencing will be installed around the facility “to ensure biosecurity,” the application stated. Whole Oceans also will have gated entrances constructed near each entrance.

“Public safety personnel will have 24-hour access to the facility for emergency response situations,” CES stated.

Also, the changes will be more aesthetically pleasing, according to CES.

“The uniformity of the large aquaculture buildings will offer a cleaner, scenic character than the seemingly random color palette and vertical profiles of the old mill structures,” CES stated.

The build-out of the property is anticipated to take up to 10 years, according to CES. Once all approvals have been obtained, earthwork will begin on an estimated 22 acres.

An aquaculture development phase is anticipated to follow the earthwork. This phase will include 90,000 square-feet of aquaculture buildings and 340,000 square-feet of total developed area, according to CES.

There are further building phases after the aquaculture phase.

By the end, Whole Oceans plans to develop a total of 945,000 square-feet of building area or 21.69 acres, according to CES. The property will have 32.83 acres of total developed area.

While the town of Bucksport does its final review of the proposed development, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing Whole Oceans’ proposed amendment to its application for a Site Location of Development permit.

Whole Oceans’ request for a Natural Resource Protection Act “permit by rule” for soil disturbance within 75 feet of the Penobscot River also is under review.

The company’s parcel includes 7,300 square feet of shorefront.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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