BRUNSWICK — The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority has modified a proposal that fell under scrutiny by the Planning Board earlier this month because it would have subdivided land with natural habitat at Brunswick Landing without any comprehensive environmental review.
The Planning Board will consider the modified plan at its Feb. 26 meeting.
The proposal now only contains 224 acres of already developed land, for the purpose of selling or leasing to prospective developers. The land is proposed to be subdivided into 44 lots.
“We think we have addressed a majority of the issues that were raised,” Steve Levesque, MRRA executive director, said Tuesday. “We’re hopeful of approval. We have a number of pending projects that are awaiting approval of the subdivision.”
The previous plan had included 399 acres, some of which contained natural habitat areas. Planning Board members were divided on how the authority should move forward.
At the board’s Feb. 5 workshop, one member said the plan did not satisfy several elements of Brunswick’s zoning ordinance with respect to preserving natural features at the former Navy air station.
Steve Walker, a wildlife biologist at Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, estimated additional site work could cost MRRA $20,000-30,000.
In defending MRRA’s plans, Levesque said MRRA “does not have the resources” to conduct specific environmental studies and would rely on developers to do the site work when they buy or lease individual lots.
Planning Board Chairman Charlie Frizzle reconciled how the board could solve this problem.
“It could all be covered by a single condition on this subdivision approval that the applicant must return to us with each individual lot and have all that stuff delineated,” Frizzle said at the workshop.
“I would say we’re setting a very dangerous precedent on the most significant subdivision this town has ever seen,” Walker responded.
Walker later explained his position.
“Lot-by-lot development has a proven track record to degrade resources, incremental impact by incremental impact,” he said in an email message on Tuesday. “It’s easy to say ‘we’ll address it at the time of development,’ but by doing so you are already limiting your ability to address cumulative impacts project-wide, and a slippery slope scenario quickly becomes reality as one lot may get approval to fill a wetland, or impact significant habitat – then you have little ability to say ‘no’ to others.”
Whether MRRA’s new plan satisfies the Planning Board will be seen at the Feb. 26 meeting.
The board will also hold two workshops: to consider amending the language for an aviation zoning district at Brunswick Landing, and language of a mixed-use district to allow Bowdoin College to use a former senior housing building as a residence hall.