BRUNSWICK — After more than two years, 100 work sessions, and many public hearings, the Planning Board has a draft of a new zoning ordinance.
The process of overhauling the zoning ordinance began in 2013, following direction from the town’s 2008 Comprehensive Plan. It was supposed to take a year to review and ratify.
But the process dragged after the public criticized the content and what some perceived as a lack of transparency at public hearings and in correspondence to the Brunswick Zoning Ordinance Rewrite Committee.
The draft the committee presented to the Planning Board Tuesday night, June 14, follows two full public drafts. The annotated drafts, and the version the Planning Board is now reviewing, can be viewed on brunswickme.org.
Over the next two to three months, the board will hold a series of public meetings to determine what changes, if any, they want to make to the draft. They will then hold a formal public hearing on the document, and vote to recommend it to the Town Council.
“We will continue to accept comments from the public throughout the entire process,” Board Chairman Charlie Frizzle said Tuesday.
Town Planning Director Anna Breinich, who has played a leading role in the rewrite process, walked board members through an outline of the draft ordinance.
She said the main purpose of the rewrite is to simplify and streamline the current Brunswick Zoning Ordinance, which has not been updated since 1997.
The present ordinance has about 50 zoning districts, Breinich said. The new one would whittle that down to 33, with 10 overlay districts, by consolidating similar districts.
The new ordinance would also include “full integration of Brunswick Landing,” she said. “Finally.”
The Planning Board is set to start discussing the content of the draft at the next regular meeting, June 28. In the meantime, the rewrite committee will keep meeting to finalize three unfinished portions of the document: stormwater management, which was affected by a revision to state regulations, shoreland protection, and regulations for signage.
The board will likely hold three special meetings for public comment, Breinich said, but those dates have not yet been set.
“All of the (rewrite committee) work sessions have been public,” she said. “It has been a very, very, very transparent process, so hopefully that helps.”
“We have listened and made tons of revisions,” she added.
The Planning Board tentatively plans to send a recommendation to the Town Council sometime in September or early October, according to Breinich.