Brunswick adds base redevelopment liaison, sets hearing on urban chickens

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BRUNSWICK — The town will soon hire someone to assist in communicating with the organization overseeing the redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station.

The partially grant-funded position will run through December 2010, and perhaps longer if the town continues to receive financial assistance from the Office of Economic Adjustment, the federal agency that helps communities going through base closure.

OEA has already committed $75,000 to the position. The town is expected to kick in another $25,000 to cover what Town Manager Gary Brown described as “fringe benefits.”

The council unanimously approved creating the position for a special assistant. The person hired will become the point of contact for the town and the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority on BNAS closure matters. David Markovchick, the town’s economic development director, will supervise the new employee.

In a memo to the council, Brown said the new position would help fill the void left when his former job as assistant manager was not filled. In the memo, Brown said he recommends leaving that position vacant until the town can assess the outcomes of statewide ballot referendums in November that could have significant impact on the town budget. 

In the meantime, Brown said, the new special assistant would be a line of communication between the town and MRRA. Brown currently serves on the MRRA Board of Trustees. However, his term expires at the end of the year and he isn’t expected to be reappointed.

The council was generally supportive of creating the new liaison. However, Councilor Joanne King wanted assurances that the temporary position won’t become permanent. 

Brown said that it would be made clear to all applicants that the position is contingent upon receiving OEA funding, a scenario he said would be likely for at least three years. 

In other business, the council voted 9-0 to set a public hearing on an ordinance amendment that would allow some downtown residents to keep up to six chickens for egg production. The amendment has appeared on the council agenda several times since the spring, but councilors are now moving closer to a decision. 

While some councilors wondered about the codes enforcement office’s ability to handle the additional workload, the only major hurdle appears to be setback restrictions on hen houses. The ordinance language shown Monday require a 20-foot setback from an abutter. However, some councilors supported a smaller setback if the chicken owner could obtain permission from his or her neighbor. 

The council set a public hearing on the new language for Oct. 19.

The council also unanimously authorized spending approximately $1,000 to supply several downtown Maine Street crosswalks with bright-colored crossing flags for pedestrians to carry. The flags, proposed by Greg Farr of the Brunswick Downtown Association, are intended to increase the visibility of pedestrians, many of whom, Farr said, feel uncomfortable crossing four lanes of traffic. 

The handheld flags will be placed at four or five crosswalks.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext.123 or