BRUNSWICK

Several residents of Rossmore Road in Brunswick said their neighborhood has more foot traffic than motor vehicle traffic, and they like it that way. They’re concerned, however, that under a rewrite of Brunswick’s zoning, a potential access road could ruin that.

On Wednesday, those residents asked the committee charged with rewriting the town’s zoning ordinance to help keep the area rural.

Rossmore Road is accessed by Maquoit Road to the northeast and Mere Point Road to the southwest. The road travels through wetlands and wooded areas that are prime wildlife habitat, said residents.

Marcia Harrington noted that her neighborhood falls into a rural protection zone that abuts a residential growth zone. While she and other neighbors favored streamlining town zoning, Harrington said she did not want to see an increase in one growth zone at the expense of the rural protection zone.

Harrington said there was the potential for an access road to be constructed with the build-out of a nearby development, something she said would be harmful to the area’s character.

“We’ve become a preferred loop” for foot traffic, noted Rossmore

Road resident Ann Goodenow. “It’s a horrible place to have an access road.”

The residents were speaking at a public forum held by the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite Committee — or ZORC — that was part of a series of meetings to gather public input for a draft ordinance rewrite.

The rewrite could have major impacts on residents and businesses throughout Brunswick, as well as other entities, such as Bowdoin College.

S. Catherine Longley, the college’s chief financial and administrative officer, noted that Bowdoin owns property in 15 different zoning districts in Brunswick.

The college is concerned, Longley said, that some important uses permitted under current zoning would no longer be allowed under the draft rewrite.

For example, the college has offices on Bath Road that would fall under a consolidated zone, and would not be permitted. Residence halls on Maine Street would now be subject to conditional use under the draft. And Longley said she was concerned about imposing restrictions on the maximum allowable footprints for buildings in zones where there are now no maximums.

One more town-wide ZORC public forum is scheduled for Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. at Southern Maine Community College.

After that the committee will begin digesting public comment on the rewrite.

“We’ve been listening an awful lot,” said ZORC member and Planning Board Chairman Charlie Frizzle.

To date, 37 meetings on the massive rewrite have taken place, and the monthslong process aiming to rewrite Brunswick’s zoning has no hard and fast enddate, according to Frizzle.

Eventually, the committee will present a draft to the planning board, and finally to the town council for adoption. Frizzle said that likely won’t happen until next year.

The rewrite is being done, in part, to align the town’s ordinance with the 2008 comprehensive plan, in addition to simplifying the town’s zoning. The rewrite will help integrate Brunswick Landing, which occupies most of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, with the rest of the town’s zoning.

The rewrite will also reduce the number of districts in Brunswick from 50 to 31. The large number of zoning districts has led to a number of inconsistencies, according to Donald Elliott, a director of the land use consulting firm Clarion Associates, hired by the town.

Brunswick resident Richard Fisco began the public comment portion of the meeting by challenging Elliott to a debate, saying the rewrite was based on “a template that’s being superimposed on this community.”

Fisco, who runs a bookstore downtown, said those in the downtown don’t want more growth, despite what the draft rewrite calls for. Rural residents, he said, will have their property values and property rights “undermined.”

“We need time to read this 230-page document,” Fisco said. “We insist that this process slow down, and give us time to make it our own.”

He also said he was concerned that the rewrite is based on a United Nations mandate.

Elliott, in his opening comments, said that the ZORC draft rewrite is not “Agenda 21 drivel,” referencing the United Nations document that Fisco then referenced.

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Getting in the zone

TO DATE, 37 MEETINGS on the rewrite have taken place, and the months-long process aiming to rewrite Brunswick’s zoning has no hard and fast end-date.

Eventually, the committee will present a draft to the planning board, and finally to the town council for adoption.

The rewrite is being done, in part, to align the town’s ordinance with the 2008 comprehensive plan, in addition to simplifying the town’s zoning. The rewrite will help integrate Brunswick Landing with the rest of the town’s zoning.

ONE MORE TOWN-WIDE ZORC public forum is scheduled for Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. at Southern Maine Community College.



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