Calais votes to create natural gas zone

Posted May 17, 2010, at 10:49 p.m.

CALAIS, Maine — Calais leaders are moving forward with projects they believe will economically benefit the region, including creating a marine industry zone for liquefied natural gas facilities.

On Monday, the city learned it had qualified for a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant to upgrade low-income housing.

“This is very, very exciting for Calais,” Town Manager Diane Barnes said Tuesday afternoon. Barnes said the funding will be used to provide materials and labor for low-income homeowners to upgrade their residences, including weatherization and safety repairs.

Barnes said that not only will this grant directly help homeowners upgrade their homes, it will provide jobs and sales for local service people and businesses.

Last Thursday, the Calais City Council voted to amend its Comprehensive Plan and Land Use regulations to create a marine industrial zone.

“This is not specific to Calais LNG,” Barnes said, but added that it will allow projects such as Calais LNG to go forward.

“If Calais LNG should not happen, we will still be ready for other such projects in the future,” Barnes said.

The Calais LNG project, estimated to cost $800 million to $1 billion, is proposed for the Red Beach section of Calais, south of the city, on a 330-acre site that features 2,800 feet of shoreline along the deep-water banks of the St. Croix River and Passamaquoddy Bay.

Calais LNG is currently in the permit process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and, in late January 2010, filed its permits with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The action taken last week by the City Council made the necessary local zoning changes to help pave the way for Calais LNG to locate a liquefied natural gas terminal and pipeline in the city.

City officials feel that not only would Calais LNG bring economic revival to Calais, but the spin-off businesses it could create would also provide jobs and revenue.

There was only one comment — a positive one — at last week’s public hearing on the comprehensive plan changes.

Changes to the land use regulations, however, were opposed by at least one abutting landowner who said the scenic value of his property would be adversely affected by an LNG port.

The changes were passed by the Council, which has openly supported the Calais LNG project.

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