Brunswick council OKs new municipal election districts

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council on Monday unanimously approved new boundaries for the town’s seven municipal election districts.

The meeting was one of the last to be held in the Council Chambers at Brunswick Station.

Starting next week, all boards and committees will begin meeting in alternative locations as the town prepares to move into the new Town Hall at 85 Union St.

A schedule of meetings, with their times and locations, are available online, at the current Town Hall at 28 Federal St., and at Curtis Memorial Library.

The council’s redistricting vote means some residents will be in different districts starting next year, essentially giving them new town councilors and School Board representatives.

The vote will also determine the districts where residents are eligible to run for elected office. No current town councilors or School Board members, however, are being redistricted.

Town Manager Gary Brown said the town will likely inform residents in May 2014 if they have been affected by the state-mandated redistricting effort.

“We will also probably be making repeated public announcements as the elections come closer,” he said.

The redrawn district map is available online in the council’s information packet for Monday’s meeting, at Town Hall, and at Curtis Memorial Library.

State law and the Town Charter mandate that district boundaries must be redrawn every 10 years to balance populations, based on the most recent U.S. Census data.

Since it’s difficult to create absolute parity between districts, a 10 percent margin of error is allowed.

Councilor Gerald Favreau said because the district lines were redrawn to be more contiguous, it will be easier for residents to determine which district they live in.

Earlier in the meeting, the council tabled a Planning Board appointment to next year. The vacancy will be created when Councilor-elect Steve Walker takes the District 2 seat in January.

According to a memo from Town Attorney Pat Scully, the current council can appoint a Planning Board member for an anticipated vacancy that will occur during the session of next year’s council.

However, Scully said such a maneuver has some legal ambiguities and a court “would probably find that there are limits on the actions the current council can take to bind future councils.”

Alison Harris, who lost the District 6 council race to Jane Millet in November, was slated for the appointment, but withdrew her application after reading Scully’s opinion, according to an e-mail she sent Sunday to Chairwoman Suzan Wilson and Councilor David Watson.

Harris said she was hoping to be appointed for the vacant position and the subsequent three-year term that begins in February 2014.

“This seems to have become a political matter,” said Watson, who moved to table the appointment. “I think it’s best for the next council.”

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.