Brunswick council schedules public hearing on air base zoning

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council on Monday set a public hearing to discuss proposed zoning amendments important to the redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station.

The amendments have been proposed by the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority in cooperation with the town’s planning department. They include three major zones and are designed to dovetail with the base master reuse plan and the town’s existing zoning and comprehensive plan. While other base closure communities have created separate zoning standards for redeveloped property, MRRA is attempting to integrate BNAS zoning into town land use regulations because it believes it will expedite development.

The MRRA board has already approved the amendments and the Planning Board reviewed them in March. Now it’s up to the council to ratify the changes.

The proposal is important because it sets building size, density and land-use restrictions on property that will become part of the town once the U.S. Navy turns the base over in 2011. The regulations will not only impact the 3,200 acres at BNAS, but its abutters.

There was little discussion by the council about the proposal on Monday, probably because councilors didn’t begin addressing the issue until about 10:30 p.m. However, councilors hinted that they had questions about the amendments. Among them were Councilor David Watson, whose district includes Cook’s Corner near the east side of the base.

Previously density issues in the amendments and a proposal to create an east-west connector road to increase access to the base have been a concern for residents living near Harpswell Road.

The amendments include three major zones, a reuse district, a conservation district and a college/conservation district. The latter zone includes property west of the runway that will be split between Bowdoin College and the reestablishment of the historic Town Commons recreational trails.

Another conservation district has been designated at the southern portion of the base to protect significant wetlands and marsh.

The reuse district comprises the heart of the base’s existing infrastructure. It includes six sub-districts that will allow for an office park, airport uses, mixed-use, residential, business and technology industry and some open space.

The town plans to post the entire zoning plan at and make hard copies available at the town offices and the Curtis Memorial Library.

The council set the public hearing for July 20 to give residents enough time to review the proposal.

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