State approves 25-acre Trenton oyster farm proposal

Posted Jan. 26, 2012, at 6:49 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2012, at 10:04 a.m.
Acadia Sea Farms, owned and operated by Trenton resident Warren Pettegrow, applied in February 2010 to the Maine Department of Marine Resources for approval to grow oysters in two 25-acre lease sites in Western Bay.
Acadia Sea Farms, owned and operated by Trenton resident Warren Pettegrow, applied in February 2010 to the Maine Department of Marine Resources for approval to grow oysters in two 25-acre lease sites in Western Bay.

TRENTON, Maine — A local man who is hoping to raise oysters on two 25-acre lease sites just west of the Mount Desert Island causeway has had his lease application approved by the state.

On Monday, the Maine Department of Marine Resources approved an application from Warren Pettegrow to cultivate oysters in cages in Western Bay, near Goose Cove.

DMR has imposed certain conditions on Pettegrow’s permit, however. He will not be allowed to operate power washers at the lease site and will have to dispose of all removed marine debris at a land-based composting site. He will have to post a bond of $25,000 and cannot let cages holding the oysters rest on the bottom of the bay.

Pettegrow had applied for a 10-year lease but was given a five-year lease and will be allowed to apply for an extension.

Pettegrow’s attorney, Douglas Chapman of Bar Harbor, said Thursday that his client has no objection to any of the conditions imposed by the state.

“We embrace those,” Chapman said Thursday morning.

But Pettegrow’s company, Acadia Sea Farms, needs more than just permission from the state to begin cultivating oysters off MDI. It also needs federal permission, and not just the usual permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Last week, federal officials indicated that Pettegrow will have to get his proposal approved by the Federal Aviation Administration before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will permit the oyster farm. The issue of whether birds might be attracted to the aquaculture site, and therefore whether flight approaches to the nearby Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport might be affected, came up at a multiday public hearing held in September 2010.

Chapman said Thursday that Pettegrow has been aware of the aviation concerns since he submitted his lease application in early 2010.

“We’ve known that since the beginning,” Chapman said.

He said he had “no idea” how long it might take for the FAA to review and make a decision about the oyster farm, but added that he thinks his client hopes to begin operations in Western Bay sometime this spring.

A message left Thursday afternoon at the FAA regional office in Burlington, Mass., was not returned.

A group of nearby property owners called Friends of Goose Cove had raised concerns about Pettegrow’s operation, which eventually could include 5,000 oyster-growing cages and could produce as many as 10 million oysters annually.

An Ellsworth attorney representing the group, Sally Mills, said last week that the group was “delighted” by the restrictions the state was considering. Those are the same restrictions that were included in the decision approved by DMR on Monday.

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