BELFAST, Maine — A $2 million food processing, storage and distribution center has been proposed for the Belfast Business Park city councilors learned at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
Developer Jan Anderson, a former Belfast city councilor, said she already has promises from two businesses to move into her Coastal Farms and Food Processing center once she constructs it.
As explained to the council, the center would include two large metal buildings on the site, estimated to cost $500,000, and a $1.4 million industrial food freezing and storage facility.
Anderson said that she is requesting that Belfast grant her an option on three or four parcels in the business district to build the center in exchange for developing the center, which will be a destination point for vegetables, berries and fish from the region.
“This is the kind of business whose time has come,” Anderson said. “It is coming and it is here.”
She and her business adviser Wayne Snyder said that Cheryl Wixson and Phillip McFarland will rent a 10,800-square-foot building to use for food processing and office space for a business called Cheryl Wixson’s Kitchen.
Coastal Farms and Food Processing also has a commitment from Tony Kelly, who will use a 12,000-square-foot freezer and processing line to freeze berries and vegetables for his business, Central Maine Cold Storage.
Maine now supplies just 20 percent of the food consumed within the state, Anderson said, and there is room to increase that number. She said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will guarantee up to 80 percent of her business loan.
Councilor Mike Hurley expressed doubts about giving away the lots in the business park.
“There’s been a lot of discussion going on with the council on how not to raise taxes,” he said. “One of those ways is cutting spending.”
Anderson said that there is a great need in Maine for freezer storage space.
“At the end of this work, the value of the property will be considerably increased,” she said. “It will position Belfast as the hub of food processing for this region.”
She said that the center might directly create part-time jobs for 12 people in around-the-clock shifts and four year-round employees. Other jobs could be created for truck drivers, salespeople and farmers.
After Anderson’s presentation, the council asked her to provide more details before they would grant an option for the lots. They also authorized city staff to draft an option to be returned to the council for final approval.
In other business, the council:
– Approved a contract rezoning agreement with DUBBA LLC, the company redeveloping the Stinson Seafood site as Front Street Shipyard.
– Heard a presentation from Penquis’ MaineStream Finance, a program that could bring the business Incubator Without Walls to Belfast to support small and medium-size businesses.
– Reaffirmed support for several grant applications which would improve the waterfront and downtown area, including a $150,000 Community Enterprise Grant to make streetscape improvements, two $200,000 grants to assist Front Street Shipyard in constructing a winter storage building, and a $300,000 grant for rehabilitating multiunit rental properties.
– Hired Ned Lightner of Insight Productions to run Belfast’s government access channel. He said after the meeting that he intends to make city meetings available online, both live and on demand.