Searsport will do some of its own studies on tank effects

Posted July 10, 2012, at 6:38 p.m.

SEARSPORT, Maine — The Searsport Planning Board decided at Monday night’s regular meeting to have some of its own studies done in regards to some of the potential effects of a controversial $40 million liquid propane terminal and storage tank project.

“In the ordinance, we can get outside help,” Bruce Probert, longtime chairman of the planning board, said Tuesday.

The board has begun its review process for Denver-based DCP Midstream’s project, although members are still awaiting a permit from the Maine Fuel Board before the application can be considered complete, Probert said.

This week, board members decided to have an impact study done on additional truck traffic on Station Avenue, which is a town road.

“That could affect our municipal services,” he said.

The James W. Sewall Co. of Old Town will do the traffic study.

Additionally, Searsport elected officials are looking at a proposal from Camoin Associates of Saratoga, Fla., to look into how the project would affect municipal costs, direct and indirect tax revenues, school funding, property values and tourism revenues.

“What’s the net effect on the community?” Probert asked. “What’s going to be the tax benefit, or not, to the town of Searsport for the project?”

Board members will wait until the next regular meeting, scheduled for Aug. 13, before making a decision about the study, he said.

Searsport will not contract to have an independent study done on safety and the proposed propane terminal project, Probert said, although the board is working with an expert who is familiar with liquid propane gas plants before members make a decision on whether to allow DCP Midstream to construct the terminal.

Once the application is finally completed, he said, the next step will be to hold a public hearing and then the planning board will review the application.

“The review process is supposedly 30 days but can be extended by mutual agreement,” he said. “It may well come down the line that we want more information, or something else done.”

The planning board did not allow public comment on pending applications, including the DCP Midstream application, at the meeting this week.

“We asked for that on the advice of our lawyer,” he said.

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