Zoning must be changed before Brunswick police HQ can be reused

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BRUNSWICK — Councilors discussed the fate of the current police station Monday night.

The Brunswick Development Corp., a quasi-municipal economic development group, purchased the land for a new police station at the corner of Pleasant and Stanwood streets in 2011 with the understanding that it would exchange the property for the current police station building, which the group plans to redevelop as office space.

But the current zoning does not allow that development.

According to Town Manager Gary Brown, the law stipulates that once the property is no longer being used by the town, it cannot be used as office space.

“(Its) uses are very limited without special permits,” Brown said Monday.

The BDC proposed that the council approach the Planning Board to change the ordinance so office use will be allowed in the building.

Council Chairwoman Joanne King said there is no reason not to change the ordinance.

“We’re not changing the way this building is being used,” she said. “I don’t anticipate it to be a controversial process.”

The council unanimously approved asking the Planning Board to review the ordinance. Director of Planning and Development Anna Breinich said the board will look at the issue at its meeting on Sept. 11.

Also Monday, Dr. Ronald Cantor, president of Southern Maine Community College, updated the council on the college’s expansion at Brunswick Landing.

“My philosophy of college education and especially community college education is to place the college at the heart of the community and the community at the heart of the college, and now SMCC is going to have two full-service comprehensive campuses,” Cantor said.

He said the campus at Brunswick Landing is not just another satellite center, it will, eventually, offer the same amenities as the South Portland campus, but it’s still growing.

According to Cantor, the college owns five buildings at Brunswick Landing, but has only renovated two of them so far due to limited funding. But his hopes are high for continued growth.

“Here the conditions are very promising,” Cantor said. “You already have an excellent K-12 education system and you have Bowdoin College. We believe we can bring another piece of the educational pipeline here that is going to help the region grow both culturally and economically.”

Town Clerk Fran Smith also announced that nomination papers for council seats will be available July 27 for an at-large seat, District 3 and District 4. Papers are due back to Smith by September 7.

The Council approved skipping a meeting in August by a vote of 8-1 (Councilor John Perreault opposed). Its next meeting will be Sept. 4.

Amber Cronin can be reached at [email protected] or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.