PORTLAND — The Planning Board has unanimously approved a cold storage facility on state-owned land near the International Marine Terminal that proponents say will keep Portland competitive with larger ports.

The plan by Tweadwell Franklin Infrastructure, Eimskip and Amber Infrastructre for the 120,000 square foot Maine International Cold Storage Facility at 40 West Commercial St. passed Oct. 14.

The facility will accommodate 20,000 refrigerated pallets and provide a cost effective alternative to the larger ports south of the state, according to Jon Nass, CEO of the Maine Port Authority.  Shipments that come into the terminal now have to be stored in Boston and brought back up to Maine to be distributed locally.

“This will give a competitive advantage to Portland, Maine, to help keep the port successful for years to come,” he told The Forecaster.

A group of West End residents were opposed to the project, arguing the building is too big, would add to the traffic congestion in that section of the city and shouldn’t be on the waterfront their neighborhood overlooks. More than 80 residents wrote a letter of opposition to the Planning Board in August.

The proposal comes two years after Americold, a large cold storage company, abandoned plans to build a similar facility on the site, which has been vacant over the last few years and most recently housed a Northern Utilities natural gas/propane distribution facility.