Brunswick base agency gets initial OK for Molnlycke building

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BRUNSWICK — Concerns about ownership of property before development occurs at Brunswick Naval Air Station did not keep the Planning Board from granting final site plan approval for Man United Manufacturing.

Man United Manufacturing, also known as Molnlycke, announced intentions last month to create a manufacturing facility at what will be called Brunswick Landing. The company also owns Rynel in Wiscasset.

Man United will manufacture medical foam to supplement operations in Wiscasset and is expected to bring more than 80 jobs to Brunswick, according to documents provided to the board. The site plan application was submitted by the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which will construct the building and lease it to Man United. 

Planning Board member Jeff Peters said he was concerned about documentation of legal ownership of the 16-acre parcel, as well as lack of a survey.

“We need to hold you to standards of a private developer,” Peters said.

He said information provided to the board is “not even close” to what is normally requested.

“Nothing with the BRAC process has gone as foreseen and expected,” he said.

MRRA Executive Director Steven Levesque said the application to develop the land came a little earlier than expected because the company is ready to expand.

“As illustrated, we are a bit early in the process here,” he said, adding the company is making an international expansion decision and may end up in Finland if approval is not granted in Brunswick.

Peters took exception to Levesque’s statement.

“I didn’t mean that as a threat,” Levesque said.  “It’s just reality.”

He said MRRA will receive a lease prior to the public benefit conveyance from the Navy. He said there is a chance MRRA could receive the anticipated deed early as well.

Peters also said the financing aspect of the application is also of concern.

“How are you going to get money from a bank without title to the land? I know a rich uncle will give you the land eventually,” he said, adding there also needs to be a subdivision plan in place before a lot of development takes place on the base. “I’m not comfortable with anything I’ve seen.”

Despite Peters’ concerns, the board granted final site plan approval with several conditions.

The first includes standard bans on major changes to the plan without additional board approval. Others include proper permitting from the Department of Environmental Protection, a lease in place showing ownership of the land, documentation of financing and a survey to reflect the site plan approved by the planning board.

A zone change to allow non-aviation related business within a designated airport area was also requested by MRRA. Levesque said there are portions of the airport property that may be used for business unrelated to aviation, such as the “snow barn,” which is planned for use by Maine Tool & Machine. Levesque said the zoning “created an impediment for … some of the existing buildings.”

While there were some concerns about environmental impacts of potential development near the airstrip, current Federal Aviation Administration rules prohibit development within a certain distance of the landing strip. The FAA also prohibits gatherings of people within the flight path, leading to problems with the development of Brunswick Park and Gardens, Levesque said.

“There is no amassing of people, that is what is hurting the garden,” he said.

Rather than a blanket change removing the aviation qualifier, the Planning Board restricted development to existing impervious surfaces. Vice Chairwoman Margaret Wilson said the maps should be redrawn in case the landing strip is not being used to prevent development in environmentally sensitive areas.

“I am not comfortable putting all of our eggs in the FAA basket,” board member Steve Walker said. “We need to be as proactive as we can be.”

The board’s unanimous recommendation to amend the zone will be forwarded to the Town Council.

Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or sgrinnell@theforecaster.net

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