Residents of the midcoast region of Maine are petitioning the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the US Coast Guard to deny permits to a planned Home Depot store in the town of Rockland.
The 100,000-square-foot store is slated for a 24-acre site along the coast near Route 1. The project was approved by the Rockland Planning Commission in October. It still needs permits from the DEP, which is accepting public comment through February and is expected to issue a decision in March.
Concerned citizens say the project violates state law by creating visual pollution and noise, destroying wetlands, harming existing uses, and damaging the scenic beauty of Penobscot Bay.
In a letter to the DEP, Ron Huber of Penobscot Bay Watch points out that the Home Depot “would be the largest and highest major light-emitting facility on the West Penobscot Bay coast.” Constructed at elevations of 50 to 150 feet above sea level, the store’s nighttime visual footprint “would extend at minimum across a ninety degree swath of west Penobscot Bay and its islands and coasts.” The store’s air conditioning, lumber yard, and car traffic would produce a “continuous low frequency hum, annoyingly audible well throughout the harbor and beyond.”
The harm to the scenic character of the bay could severely impact the region’s thriving tourism and commercial wind jamming industry. Add to this the impact on existing hardware businesses and downtowns, and the project is likely to destroy more jobs and tax revenue than it creates.
Penobscot Bay Watch has also petitioned the US Coast Guard to block the development. The store’s lights would be at about the same elevation as two lighthouses, and thus pose an illegal navigation and safety hazard.