Brunswick subdivision proposal faces continued resistance

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BRUNSWICK — The Planning Board approved a sketch plan Tuesday that would allow an addition at a Baribeau Drive elder-care center and permit the facility to convert double-occupancy rooms to private units.

The board also discussed an ongoing project for Ridgewood Estates, an open-space subdivision couched between Interstate 295 and Durham Road. But the board tabled a vote on the final plans in light of new information received about the project just hours before the review.

The Midcoast Senior Health Center at 58 Baribeau Drive offers a range of services for the infirm elderly, including long-term nursing, rehabilitation, and hospice care. Mid Coast Geriatric Services wants to add a nearly 9,000-square-foot, single-story addition that would allow the center to eliminate its 16 double occupancy rooms.

After the renovation, the center would have 42 private units. 

Steve Doe of Sebago Technics told the Planning Board that the renovation would not change the number of patients or employees, and therefore not result in an increase in traffic or parking at the business campus the building shares.

Doe said plans will reduce the number of parking spaces from 151 to 143 to compensate for the increase in developed area. 

The building is within the Mare Brook watershed district. At the request of town staff, the applicant is developing stormwater treatment systems to protect the urban-impaired stream, which Doe will present at the final review.

No one from the public spoke about the project, and Planning Board members had few questions. Chairman Charlie Frizzle recused himself because of an affiliation with the organization.

Ridgewood Estates

The 13-unit subdivision proposed by developer Jon Snell was on the receiving end of continued resistance Tuesday.

Echoing concerns made during a sketch plan review early last month, several members of the board and public were concerned the developer will not adequately preserve the rural setting the housing will occupy.

The open-space subdivision calls for the development of 13 homes on 40 acres of a larger 180-acre wooded parcel off Durham Road. Snell told the board he intends to retain the remaining 140 acres for private use and eventually continue the development by adding another 12 lots.

Vice Chairwoman Margaret Wilson told Snell and project engineers that the allusion to future development affected her review of the project. She was concerned the proposed 40 acres of conservation land would be disproportionately small in light of the potential for future development.

“I am unable to get past that issue,” Wilson said.

She said the application materials “over and over” imply that the development will expand. Her comments came on the heels of Jane Arbuckle’s worry that the proposed areas of conservation are too fragmented to meaningfully satisfy the purpose of preserving them.

Since the May 3 sketch review, the applicant also conducted a study to assuage neighborhood concerns that the installation of private wells and septic systems would harm wells already in the area.

Though the study concluded there is ample water supply, several neighbors, including abutter Catherine Johnson, remain unconvinced. 

“I still remain concerned about the water,” she said.

The applicants will return to the board next week to continue discussing the project, including a lengthy peer-review analysis of Siteline’s stormwater management plan that arrived just hours before the Tuesday night meeting.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

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Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.
  • Paul Whitcomb

    I hope Wilson and Arbuckle stick to their guns on this. I’d hate to see Brunswick trying to play catch-up to Portland and Augusta in terms of development. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.