Brunswick will spend $4 million to buy 283 acres from a developer that hoped to build a large-scale housing project. The land deal would kill the project, assuaging fears of locals concerned the development would harm the already-weakened health of Maquoit Bay.

The deal will be finalized next month, after the Town Council unanimously backed the purchase in a vote Monday evening.

The decision to buy the land from Mere Point Development, LLC, hailed by one supporter as “the opportunity of a generation,” came weeks after the Town Council passed an emergency moratorium on development within the Maquoit Bay Watershed in order to guard against clam die-offs, algae blooms and other potentially irreversible environmental harm experts have linked to reckless development.

“The life we’re living with right now, and a lot of what’s happening, are decisions that our grandparents made,” Councilor Kathy Wilson said. “The decisions we make are not going to be just for us but for all future generations that live in Brunswick.”

The purchase of the property, which sits between Maquoit Road and Mere Point Road, could increase Brunswick’s tax rate by 1%, according to early projections from Julia Henze, the town’s finance director. That would raise annual taxes on a $200,000 home to $4,382, a $44 increase.

Though the project will hit their tax bill, more than a dozen members of the public voiced their support of the purchase during Monday’s public hearing, joining a chorus of speakers and letter writers who pushed for the development moratorium earlier this month.


“I know there’s a lot of concern about the expense,” resident Bonnie Wood said. “Can we afford it? Do the citizens want to afford it? But I think the question that we need to ask ourselves is, ‘Can we afford not to purchase this land?’”

By owning the property, which falls partly within the watershed, the town will guard against development that could harm the bay’s delicate ecosystem, supporters said.

Yet while everyone who spoke at Monday’s hearing supported the land purchase, not everyone agreed on how the town should use the property.

Brunswick Recycling & Sustainability Committee member Stephen Wood argued the town should conserve the entire area rather than set aside some land for affordable housing development.

“Why would you want to destroy some natural woods to put up buildings when you’ve got other places that are already damaged?” he asked the council. “I think the nine of you will be remembered for decades to come if you preserve all of the Maquoit Woods.”

Others argued Brunswick should use some of the land to address a housing shortage that has prevented young Brunswick natives like Jo Sehan from moving out of their parents’ homes.


“With this land, you can revitalize the land by building affordable housing for young folks like me,” Sehan said. “Invest in us and let us show you what we can accomplish together.”

The town completed a purchase and sale agreement with Mere Point Development, LLC, Monday morning, according to Town Manager John Egan. It will be able to execute the deal as soon as 30 days after Monday’s council vote.

During that time, town staff will solicit donations from individuals and explore possible partnerships with conservation organizations like the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, which could reduce the sale’s cost to Brunswick residents, Henze said.

“Whether you’ve come at it from an environmental angle, a housing angle or a little bit of both,” Councilor Dan Ankeles told meeting attendees, “I am thankful that we’re about to come together as a community and choose not to be passive observers of an unsustainable process.”

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