Rural Brunswick subdivision to begin construction

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BRUNSWICK — After resolving prior questions, the Planning Board approved plans Tuesday for a 13-unit subdivision in a rural part of town off Durham Road.

The 4-0 vote – from which Jane Arbuckle was absent and Robert Burgess recused himself – was tabled during a review June 6, after the board received a last-minute packet of new information.

At that meeting, Vice Chairwoman Margaret Wilson and Arbuckle raised concerns over the plan’s “fragmented” conservation plots. Their reaction prompted the applicant, Jon Snell, to submit a revised design.

Joe Mardens, of engineering and landscape architecture firm Sitelines, also sought to ameliorate neighbors’ fears that the subdivision – which alludes to an eventual 12-home expansion – would dry up area wells.

Each of the 13 proposed homes in the so-called Ridgewood Estates will be hooked to private septic and wells. The homes are clustered as close as possible to Durham Road, but occupy more than 35 acres of a larger, 180-acre tract in a quasi-triangular parcel that shares a border with Interstate 295.

Mardens said he brought some of the units even closer to Durham Road since the previous week’s review, and reworked another option for land designated for conservation.

The changes were designed to mitigate the board’s critique that the subdivision’s layout caused the fragmentation of nearly 24 acres of proposed conservation land, which were separated into four disparate chunks. This was in spite of the fact that the Conservation Commission “determined the proposed development would not unreasonably fragment” the area between Durham Road and Interstate 295 at their May 30 site walk, according to the project application.

Marden’s revised layout – which appeased the board – reduced the total conservation area to 19 acres, but consolidated the land into three areas in closer proximity.

“Keep(ing) the conservation land more connected along that major stream, to me, that makes more sense,” Wilson said Tuesday.

She and the board based their feedback on guidelines for the Rural Brunswick Smart Growth overlay district, where the parcel is located; the intent of the district is “to minimize the removal of woody vegetation that breaks large unfragmented blocks of forest into smaller patches of forest,” according to the zoning ordinance.

The development of the wooded parcel also faced resistance from neighbors, who were not present Tuesday because they had been allowed public comment at both the June 6 meeting and a May 3 sketch plan review.

Many of the abutters also worried that the influx of new homes would deplete their wells.

But David Brooks, a groundwater hydrologist with 25 years of experience working in Maine, told the board the development would pose no threat. The parcel would still see an annual surplus of nearly 2 million gallons of water a year, based on his “conservative” calculation of groundwater supply and demand.

After the meeting, Snell said construction would begin immediately. The homes would be priced at market rate, he said.

Snell will have to return before the board if he submits plans for a second-phase expansion of the subdivision. Board Chairman Charlie Frizzle noted that those plans would likely be subject to a new zoning ordinance, which is under review by the Town Council.

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

After the developer modified his plans to appease neighborhood concerns, the Brunswick Planning Board approved a 13-home subdivision on 40 acres of a larger 180-acre wooded parcel off Durham Road in rural west Brunswick.

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