A multinational fuel corporation is planning to build a 137-foot propane gas storage tank in Searsport, following a town meeting vote raising a height limit from 60 to 150 feet.

Denver-based DCP Midstream, a division of ConocoPhillips, intends to construct the nearly 15-story tank and pipeline near Mack Point and the existing tank farm. Tanker ships would unload the propane at an existing wharf. Existing fuel tanks at Searsport’s tank farm are about 50 feet tall.

Bruce Probert, Searsport planning board chairman, said he expects DCP may submit a site-plan review application this month. In March, voters authorized the change to the zoning ordinance allowing the tall tank.

Although that measure passed easily, not everyone likes the idea of a tank that would tower above the tallest trees in Searsport.

One of the critics is Tom Gocze, manufacturer of alternative energy tanks through his firm, American Solartechnics, located directly across the road from the proposed 22.7 million-gallon DCP tank.

“My main concern is the impact on the town,” Gocze said. “It’s kind of a slap in the face to everybody involved in the tourist industry.” In particular, he said, the tank would overshadow Angler’s seafood restaurant, an abutting property. He said no one seems to know just what the visual impact would be on Searsport, although he knows he will see it from his waterfront home. “I could plant some trees and maybe in 20 years I wouldn’t see the tank. We’re prepared to sell the property and move,” he said.

Probert, who worked 38 years for Sprague Oil in Searsport, acknowledged that the tank would change the view for some people. And he admitted there would be an increase in truck traffic, and possibly rail service as well. But he pointed out the Irving corporation has been increasing its fuel business from its Searsport terminal, and there is a long local history of handling fuel at Mack Point.

“It’s coming here one way or another,” Probert said.

Gocze said he wonders why proposals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals have been vehemently rejected along the coast, while there is scant opposition or even discussion of the proposed DCP propane terminal. He wondered if the local fire department would be prepared to handle a gas fire, whether from a propane-carrying truck, railcar or some other area.

Probert said he remembers when 40 to 50 railcars per day carried industrial fuel oil to paper mills in Skowhegan, Millinocket and elsewhere, and other railcars carried potatoes to be shipped to out of state market.

DCP’s propane operation could add up to 50 trucks daily to Searsport’s traffic. Company officials say they would create 50-100 jobs during construction, and a dozen permanent jobs that could be filled by local people.

Probert said the planning board wouldn’t give final approval to the tank project until DCP receives permits from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers.

He doesn’t believe, as some critics have suggested, that Searsport “will be known as the town with the big tank.”

Said Gocze, “It’s going to be different, that’s for sure, and it’s going to be big.”

 Steve Cartwright is a freelance writer.