Durham Road neighbors raise questions about subdivision

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BRUNSWICK — The Planning Board re-approved a sketch plan Tuesday for a proposed 13-unit subdivision off Durham Road.

Early plans for Ridgewood Estates – which allude to a second phase of development, to bring the total to 25 homes – drew concerns from neighbors over an increase in traffic and the project’s impact on wildlife and well water.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the plan; Vice Chairwoman Margaret Wilson was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

The subdivision would be located on 40 acres of a 180-acre parcel; property owner Jon Snell intends to retain the remaining 140 acres of the expansive rural property.

A 1,500-foot dead-end road would grant access to 13 residential lots, all to be serviced by private wells and septic, according to project engineer Kevin Clark of Sitelines, PA.

Planning Board Chairman Charles Frizzle noted that Tuesday’s sketch plan had been previously approved in 2007, but changes in the lot lines brought it back for consideration.

The parcel is part of west Brunswick’s Farm and Forest district, and is included in the town’s Natural Resource Protection Zone. Town Planner Jared Woolston said that only one of the 13 contains wetlands, but does not prevent development, according to the state definition.

The parcel also includes a stream, and Clark said final plans would outline a more specific stormwater management design; he suggested he would not use traditional round culverts, so as to avoid blocking animals from passing through the crossings.

Board member Jane Arbuckle, who voted against the project, criticized the plan for outlining what she thought were “fragmented” conservation areas – to be further fragmented with continued development, she said – and asked Clark to explain the reasons behind their designation.

But Director of Planning and Development Anna Breinich noted that determining “the worthiness” of conserved land was up to the town’s conservation commission.

Frizzle added that land within the natural resource protection zone was automatically considered valuable.

Longtime Durham Road resident Nat Wheelwright was one of four neighbors who was concerned about the impact of the project – specifically, over the disruption of the forested area, which is home to wildlife, and the effect on the rural character of the neighborhood.

Wheelwright also mentioned future development, including the proposed road.

“I’m concerned about the whole package,” he said.

Frizzle cautioned that all future development was subject to review – including Tuesday’s sketch plan, which requires a final review – but Wheelwright worried that “(Planning Board) approvals gather a certain momentum on their own.”

Catherine Johnson, whose Durham Road home abuts the proposed development, echoed shared neighborhood concerns about the subdivision exacerbating the existing traffic on Durham Road.

Though the speed limit is 45 mph, “most people drive between 50 and 60,” she said.

At least two neighbors worried whether there is enough water to service the number of additional private wells on the parcel, which prompted Board member Sande Updegraph to wonder the same thing.

Clark said a water study would be included in the final plans to ensure the development wouldn’t dry up existing wells.

Frizzle reminded the residents in attendance that sketch plan approval only requires the set plans to meet the basic dimensional requirements of the zoning ordinance.

A final review – to include traffic and water studies and a stormwater management plan – should provide more detailed answers to the questions raised Tuesday.

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

Durham Road residents in Brunswick said they have concerns over a proposed sketch plan for a 13-home subdivision on 40 acres of a larger 180-acre wooded parcel that would abut the road and their rural property.

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.