Maine company Whole Oceans proposes a 120-acre salmon farm on a portion of the former Verso mill site in Bucksport. This rendering shows the proposed facility, which will feature a recirculating aquaculture system to raise Atlantic salmon. RENDERING COURTESY OF JOHN GUTWIN OF PEPPERCHROME

Bucksport salmon farm clears hurdle

BUCKSPORT — Whole Oceans, which proposes a land-based salmon farm on the former Verso mill site, is one step closer in making that a reality.

Whole Oceans has a purchase and sale agreement with AIM Development for a parcel on the mill site.

On Tuesday, the Bucksport Planning Board unanimously approved a request from Bucksport Mill LLC, a subsidiary of AIM Development, to subdivide one lot into two lots.

One of those lots will be conveyed to Whole Oceans.

Despite the unanimous approval, one board member, George Hanson, expressed concern that the board hadn’t been given enough information about the project.

“First time I’ve seen a subdivision like this we didn’t ask for a lot more information,” said Hanson. “I think we ought to have a statement on there, conveyance purposes only.”

Portland attorney Laura Rideout of Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios representing AIM explained that any work on the proposed project would first require a site plan review by the planning board.

“This is really just creation of a new lot line,” Rideout said. “The approved plan simply depicts three lots instead of two.”

Before the review began, Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Hammond shared a video tour he took of the area in question to be subdivided.

Hammond told the board he found the applicant had met “all applicable development standards.”

In attendance at the meeting was AIM Development Vice-President Jeff McGlin as well as Whole Oceans Chief Development Officer Ben Willauer and Chief Operating Officer Jason Mitchell.

Mitchell addressed the board briefly.

“I appreciate your consideration and time in this matter,” Mitchell said. “I continue to be impressed with the people here. It’s a place I’m proud to be a part of.”

Mitchell said the project “has the potential to change how we source protein.”

Mitchell also offered to answer questions. The board had none.

In related business, the board granted a waiver of vegetation buffer requirements in the shoreland zone for the project.

Rideout said the waiver should be granted because the property is an existing industrial site.

“Usually this provision is called upon when using undeveloped land,” she said.

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.

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