Parties waiting on a decision in a Morgan Bay aquaculture lease application have yet another opportunity for their voices to be heard. The Department of Marine Resources is accepting written closing arguments from interveners to Joseph Porada’s application for a three-year experimental lease to farm oysters on 4.5 acres in Morgan Bay.
“This is the chance for interveners and Mr. Porada to make a written argument about evidence heard at the hearing,” said Diantha Robinson, Aquaculture Administrator and Aquaculture Hearing Officer for the DMR, in a recent telephone call. She likened the process to submitting a legal brief.
The deadline for submitting the closing arguments is September 20; rebuttals to the arguments must be submitted by 12 p.m. on October 11.
In theory, the DMR has 60 days after a hearing to announce its decision on an experimental aquaculture lease. But with the hearing closed on June 13, that 60-day deadline is already past.
“There is no consequence in the rule for not making that time limit,” Robinson said.
The lease applicant may agree to an extension, and Robinson said she will ask Porada “to consent to a longer time.”
The DMR has heard hours of testimony from the community and interveners at two rounds of public hearings held in April and June. The hearings closed on June 18.
Once the aquaculture department drafts its decision on the application, it is sent to all the parties for 10 days for their review and comment, after which it will go to the commissioner, along with their comments, for his final decision.
The interveners in the application are the Town of Surry, Nicholas Sichterman, Maria Hughes, Ann Backer, Morgan Bay Neighbors, Jack Pirozzolo and Christopher Goddu.
Porada is a Hancock resident who has operated experimental aquaculture leases in Goose Marsh Pond on Mount Desert Island and Goose Cove in Trenton. He submitted two more experimental lease applications for Morgan Bay earlier this year.