Navy gives go-ahead for Brunswick Naval Air Station property transfers

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BRUNSWICK  — Brunswick Naval Air Station is one major step closer to redevelopment.

The U.S. Navy announced last week that it had signed the Record of Division regarding the environmental impact of redeveloping the base. The signing marks the end of the 2 1/2-year environmental impact statement creation process.

In signing the Record of Division, the Navy approves of the “Preferred Alternative” development plan outlined in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The Navy determined that of the three development options outlined in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, Alternative 1, or the Preferred Alternative development plan, had the least impact on the environment while also aligning with the approved Brunswick Naval Air Station Reuse Master Plan.

The Preferred Alternative calls for using the airfield as a civilian airport, and encourages “smart-growth development in the aviation related business” and other business sectors, according to the Record of Division. The plan also maintains 1,570 acres as open space, natural and recreational areas.

Within the developed areas of what will be called Brunswick Landing, nearly 3,000 residential units could be built, including 250 hotel rooms. The Record of Division estimates that up to 10,500 jobs could be created as a result of such development.

The Record of Division also summarizes the Preferred Alternative plan’s impacts on town infrastructure and services. These include elevated traffic through eight new access points to the base, an increase in water demand of 1.10 million gallons per day, a decrease of approximately 250 students in local schools, and a need for greater police presence on the 3,200-acre former navy base.

The report also identified sensitive cultural and natural areas that could be harmed by development. These include 35 archaeological sites and 20 historic buildings.

Twenty five acres of “critically imperiled” Little Bluestem-Blueberry Sandplain Grassland could also be affected. The report noted that there could be significant impacts on the species that live in those areas, including the grasshopper sparrow, which is listed by the state as a threatened or endangered species. There are no federally listed threatened or endangered species on the BNAS property.

Because of the threat to certain species, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife stated that the type of development proposed for the Sandplain Grassland would be “incompatible with protections afforded state-listed species.” As a result, developers interested in those areas would need a permit from the IFW and the Maine Natural Areas Program.

The Record of Division also identified 15 significant vernal pools and 51 acres of wetlands that could be impacted by development. Again, permits and/or wetland mitigation would be required to build near those areas.

Other potential impacts include soil erosion, temporary construction-related air pollution, and reduced groundwater recharge due to more paved areas.

Still, the Navy determined that the Preferred Alternative development “best meets the needs of the Navy while minimizing potential environmental impacts.”

The completion of the EIS and Record of Division gives the go-ahead for BNAS to begin to transfer properties to the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and other organizations like Bowdoin College, the town, and Southern Maine Community College.

Steve Levesque, executive director of the MRRA, said the authority will mark its first offical property transfer – the airport – with a celebration on Monday, Feb. 7, at 10 a.m. at Hangar 6.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net

BRUNSWICK —Brunswick Naval Air Station is one step closer towards redevelopment.

The U.S. Navy announced last week that it had signed the Record of Division regarding the environmental impact of re-developing the base. The signing marks the end of the 2 1/2 year environmental impact statement creation process.

In signing the Record of Division, the Navy approves of the “Preferred Alternative” development plan outlined in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)

The Navy determined that of the three development options outlined in the FEIS, Alternative 1, or the Preferred Alternative development plan, had the least impact on the environment while also aligning with the approved Brunswick Naval Air Station Reuse Master Plan.

The Preferred Alternative calls for using the airfield as a civilian airport, and encourages “smart-growth development in the aviation related business” and other business sectors, according to the Record of Division. The plan also maintains 1,570 acres as open space, natural and recreational areas.

Within the developed areas of the former navy base, up to 2,946 residential units could be built, including 250 hotel rooms. The Record of Division estimates that up to 10,500 jobs could be created as a result of such development.

The Record of Division summarized the Preferred Alternative plan’s impacts on town infrastructure and services. These include elevated traffic through eight new access points to the base, an increase in water demand by 1.10 million gallons per day, a decrease of approximately 250 K-12 students in local schools, and a need for greater police presence on the 3,200 acre former navy base.

The report also identified sensitive cultural and natural areas that could be harmed by development. These include 35 archaeological sites and 20 historic buildings. Twenty five acreas of “critically imperiled” Little Bluestem-Blueberry Sandplain Grassland could also be developed if all goes to plan. The report noted that there could be significant impacts on the species that live in those areas, including the grasshopper sparrow, which is listed at the state-level as a threatened or endangered species. There are no federally listed threatened or endangered species on the BNAS property.

Because of the threat to certain state-listed species, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife stated that the type of development proposed for the Sandplain Grassland would be “incompatible with protections afforded state-listed species.” As a result, developers interested in those areas would need a permit approved by MDIFW and the Maine Natural Areas Program to proceed.

Within the area to be devloped

Steve Levesque, Executive Director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA), said that completing the EIS “really paves the way for property transfers to take place.”

MRRA will mark its first offical property transfer – the airport – with a celebration on Monday, Feb. 7 at 10 a.m. The aiport property consists of more than 715 acres of runways, hangars and other buildings.

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