Brunswick board tables subdivision, OKs restaurant greenhouse

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BRUNSWICK — The Planning Board again tabled a proposal for a subdivision at the end of Boody Street on Tuesday night, but approved an amended final application for a greenhouse at Tao Yuan restaurant.

The board had previously approved a sketch application for the Chamberlain Woods subdivison in February. That plan calls for an eight-lot subdivision around a cul-de-sac, a previously constructed house on Belmont street, and large undeveloped parcel.

Project engineer Curtis Neufeld of Sitelines told the board Tuesday night that since then, the Final Plan Major Review application had gone through peer and staff review and that the applicant had “(taken) that feedback very seriously.”

A concern throughout the subdivision’s application process has been the details of its storm-water management system.

The current design will have runoff from houses draining into the cul-de-sac, then directed through a storm drain system to a drain previously constructed by the applicant on Barrows Street. The drain system will be given over to the town as an easement.

The storm-water management system was reviewed by Town Engineer John Foster and consulting engineer Sebago Technics. In the proposal to the board submitted by the developer, Coastal Building and Investments, the applicant said the outside reviews found the system generally acceptable.

“However a few final refinements and details will need to be worked out,” it said. “… final approval of the storm-water plan has been added as a condition of approval.”

Board Chairman Charles Frizzle said he appreciated the thoroughness of the new plan.

“I reviewed this pretty carefully,” Frizzle said. “… I found they covered the needed ground very well,” and he supports the plan, “especially because I know our own John Foster will be involved in covering some of these issues.”

Other board members, however, were not comfortable with the number of conditions of approval. “Having so many details delayed to be approved by staff (means) the board and public are left out of it,” board member Soxna Dice said.

Anna Breinich, the town’s director of planning and development, agreed with Dice. “We needed to bring (the plan) forward just so everybody could see,” she said, adding that the town engineer should sign off on the ground and storm-water management systems before approval from the board.

Project engineer Neufeld said the conditions of approval are “standard,” but that he would defer to the board. “These are pretty boiler plate things,” he said.

The board voted 4-3 to table the plan until the next meeting on April 28.


Town Planner Jeremy Doxsee said the board had approved a final plan last year for construction of the greenhouse at Tao Yuan restaurant on Pleasant Street, but there had been some amendments to that plan since.

In a presentation to the board, Kate Holcomb, the farm coordinator for Tao Yuan, said the business has been “working more closely with the town,” and gone through a Village Review Board process.

The greenhouse design is for a two-story building, with the first floor dedicated to staff office space and the second to an aquaponics greenhouse. It will be built on the existing foundation of what used to be an Abbey Road condominium.

Amendments to the previous application include a loading dock for trucks, overhanging deck space, and a new basement parking layout for restaurant employee use. It also includes feedback from staff review, such as a dumpster enclosure and tire stops.

Board members expressed support for the revised plan.

“I love this plan,” Vice Chairwoman Margaret Wilson said, and Dice said she appreciates the local food aspect of the project.

The board unanimously approved the plan.

After the meeting, Holcomb said the restaurant hopes to start construction by late summer. “We still need the building permits, which will be a process,” she said.

Once up and running, the greenhouse will produce fish and produce for the restaurant.

Tao plans to start by growing tilapia, a freshwater white fish, in a recirculating aquaculture system. Owner John Stadler said the system will likely supply all the tilapia for the restaurant.

The fish waste will be used to fertilize plants in the greenhouse after it is processed in a biofilter.

“It’s a happy byproduct of the system,” Holcomb said. “It’s a living system, with the bacteria doing the work.”

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Updated April 16, 2014, to correct the name of Boody Street.

Sidebar Elements

A sketch of the proposed greenhouse at Tao Yuan on Pleasant Street in Brunswick.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.