UPDATED: FMC natural gas project approved by city planning board
Rockland — The Planning Board voted 4-0 Tuesday, Jan. 7 to approve an application from FMC Corporation to construct a concrete pad and associated equipment for off-loading compressed natural gas at its plant on Lime Street.
FMC estimates the project will cost $2.5 million and will take about one year to complete.
FMC plans to truck natural gas to the site and unload the vehicles while they are on the pad at the FMC facility at 19 Lime St. The project includes adding two utility sheds and some large furnaces.
FMC Maintenance Manager Rodney Mason said the company wants to replace the No. 6 heating oil it uses now with natural gas, which will reduce costs and emissions.
FMC Plant Manager Jeff LaBrozzi said the project will make the company more competitive.
An earlier plan for the project called for four 18,000-gallon storage tanks for liquid natural gas, but the plan was revised to remove the storage tanks and use compressed natural gas instead of the liquid form. LaBrozzi said the gas will be utilized directly off the trucks as a virtual pipeline.
Mason said there are a number of safety features to prevent fires or other problems. These include cameras and gas detection systems.
He noted the gas rises into the air and dissipates in the event of a leak rather than sinking like propane. He said natural gas is environmentally friendly.
The project requires approvals from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the State Fire Marshal's Office.
The company will work with the Rockland Fire Department to plan for potential fires or environmental problems at the site.
FMC employs about 130 people, according to LaBrozzi.
The board also held a pre-application meeting with Robert and Trudie Young, who have proposed a 15-unit subdivision of single-family houses at 194 Maverick St. The property is a field with frontage on Cedar Street.
Robert Young described the proposed development as a "pocket neighborhood." The plan calls for a number of small homes with garages to serve a broad spectrum of residents in a neighborhood setting. Young said they were looking for a "walkable" area in an urban setting, and they believe this will provide pedestrian access to the city.
The couple said they plan to live in the development themselves. The homes would range between 1,100 square feet and 1,300 square feet combined on two floors, according to the plans, but would have smaller footprints, Young said. He also said the plans call for energy-efficient homes.
Neighbor Joe Patten of Cedar Street spoke in favor of the project, saying he favors co-housing projects similar to this and that this is the best and highest use of the property.
Gartley & Dorsky Engineering Vice President William Lane presented drawings of the proposed development to the planning board.
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Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast since 1998.