Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins

It would seem that a particular member of the Town Council has really taken the old Woody Guthrie song, “This land is your Land,” to heart. Of course he may be heard singing the next line a little louder than the first. By that I mean, “This land is my land.”

During last week’s meeting, a member of the council acted every bit the petulant child while discussing a current development on Miller’s Point near Mere Point. Miller’s Point, where a family, the King’s, decided that they wanted to develop a small portion of land that they have owned and paid taxes on for nearly two decades.

The family is looking to develop 40 acres and leave almost 200 more acres in a conservation easement.

Included in this development is the use of rip rap or stones used in such a way as to reduce a significant amount of soil erosion in and around parts of the point. The Kings were once again trying to protect as large a part of the property as possible and still make it viable to develop the land.

The owners, being good stewards of the land, contacted the state for the appropriate permits. The State’s Department of Environmental Protection okayed the plan. Next came a request for approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. They too gave a nod to the project. The permits from the State explicitly detailed the type of work being done, the natural vegetation to be used and the changes to the shorefront and guarantees that all work meet a standard that must be maintained for a period of at least several years.

The permits were also paid for handsomely, to the tune of about $22,000.

There were no permits issued from the town of Brunswick as apparently the staff in the Planning Office felt that the issuance of such permits was not necessary. If it was signed off on by a department of State government and a Federal agency, that was good enough. By this point the Kings, having done their due diligence, went on their way and began the site work for their project.

I wish I could say that things went happily ever after but this is Brunswick, so that would be inaccurate. No, during the council meeting several residents got up to voice their displeasure over the course of the project. Some went about attacking the lack of a process delineated by the town’s planning board and planning department to deal with such projects. Others, including one councilor, sought to punish the land owners by requiring their adherence to a brand new set of requirements for the land, or a scrapping of the project altogether.

What was lost in the meeting was the acknowledgment that no one except the Kings should have any say in how ultimately the property is developed. One resident claimed that there was a, “citizen’s interest” on the property. Still another claimed that as an, “enthusiastic paddler of Miller Point,” he had some tenuous claim where his ideas and feelings about the project should be weighted as highly as the property owners.

Neither the citizen speakers nor the councilor should have any say in how the property should be developed. None of them have paid for the upkeep or taxes for the property. It does not suit their desires for the property and so they seek to use the power of government to make it in the image they want. That is wrong.

There is a particular property in town that I cherish walking on and being able to utilize. I am able to do so because of the wonderful family that owns the property and their generosity in allowing its use. If tomorrow the land was developed and I no longer had access to use the area, it would be disappointing but I would not think of contacting a government official and complaining as I have no authority to do. Nor do I have a legal right to the property.

Perhaps the good councilor could think about that for a second. Today it is Miller Point, tomorrow it could be a house on Bowdoin Street or some other location in town. Who’s to know.

The Kings have owned, paid for, paid taxes on, cared for and allowed town’s people to use their land, free of charge, for almost 20 years. It is foolish to believe that now, when they want to develop their land, others can lay claim to what they feel is best for the area and the property.

That’s my two cents …


Jonathan Crimmins lives in Brunswick.

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