BRUNSWICK — The Town Council voted this week to impose a 90-day moratorium on timber cutting and other work along town shorelines after trees were clear-cut along hundreds of feet of waterfront on Miller Point without any municipal review.

Robert and Nancy King had the trees cut along more than 600 feet of waterfront as part of a shoreline stabilization project on their property on Miller Point, located east of Mere Point and west of Simpsons Point.

Several residents said they were upset that they had heard nothing about the project, and some asked councilors to order the work stopped until the town planning board could review it.

“I ask the council to do its job and consider citizens’ interest,” said resident Richard Knox, who lives at 81 Simpsons Point Road. “If the council feels it should change course now, it has every right to do so.”

They argued at Monday’s council meeting that state law requires a list of uses allowed in the town’s shoreline zoning district and that because Brunswick has no use table for the district, it is in violation of state law.

The Miller Point project was approved by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers. But the town’s planning board never considered the project because Brunswick staff believed it did not require any local permits.

Knox said that in researching the project he and a lawyer determined that it constituted a use in the shoreline district, and required review because state law requires town ordinances to include use tables for shoreline and other zoning districts.

Brunswick currently has no use tables in its ordinance, making it non-compliant with state law, Knox said.

“It was also discovered with this process that the town has been non-compliant with the state for 20 years,” he said.

Several residents expressed concerns about the project at Monday’s meeting.

“I’m a very enthusiastic paddler of Miller Point,” said Rob Manter, a Brunswick resident and owner of Maine Pines Racquet and Fitness. “I want to feel like I’m paddling on the coast of Maine, not the coast of New Jersey.”

Other residents felt relying solely on state permitting leaves the town with no say in projects such as these.

“What I am surprised about is that you can get a DEP permit for a shoreland restabilization that allows you to clear-cut 625 linear feet of shorefront without having to come to the town,” said Scott Bodwell, a Brunswick resident and environmental engineer.

Town Attorney Steven Langsdorf said he has spent two weeks reviewing the details of the Kings’ project and advised against taking any action to halt it.

The landowners, he said, had followed all requirements requested of them, and to their knowledge had fully complied with the law.

“They have to look at it in terms of fundamental fairness and justice,” Langsdorf told the council. “They did what they were expected to do.”

Langsdorf recommended a moratorium on future projects along town shorelines so the planning board could craft a new ordinance that would require projects like the Kings’ to come under local review.

Council Vice Chair Steve Walker said he still wanted some action to be taken on the Kings’ project.

“I’m not prepared to accept Mr. Langsdorf’s letter as case closed,” said Walker. “I think there is still opportunity maybe to lessen the impact of this project.”

Knox agreed, and said that Langsdorf’s interpretation was ignoring the fact that the proposed use of riprap stones as shoreline stabilization constituted a use.

“I think that is extremely, extremely loose interpretation of this ordinance that was designed … to protect these resources,” Knox said. “It is a use, and it is a structure, and therefore it should have triggered – and it still can trigger – planning board review.”

After debate, the council voted 7-1, with District 4 Councilor John Perreault abstaining because of a possible conflict of interest, to impose an emergency moratorium on all future work along town shorelines for 90 days so it can consider ordinance changes. The moratorium does not affect the Kings’ project, and residents say they are unhappy that so much shoreline on Miller Point has been altered for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a stark remarkable clear-cut area,” Bodwell said. “A pristine area of Brunswick shore, a whole bluff, has been cut as we debate this.”

The Kings could not be reached for comment.