Business park plans draw wary neighbors

Posted Feb. 18, 2010, at 11:33 p.m.

ORRINGTON, Maine — Not in my backyard.

That’s what Brewer Lake Road residents who live near a proposed 150-acre business and light industry park told town planners Thursday night during a public hearing to receive their comment on the project.

Resident Adam Murphy asked why an industrial park was needed and wanted to know how such a planned development would affect wildlife and the nearby Sedgeunkedunk Stream.

“Pretty much that’s right in my backyard, and I don’t want anything to mess that up,” he said.

Orrington has amassed the land over the past decade to create a business park after the area was identified in the town’s comprehensive plan and in the 2003 strategic economic development plan as a good site for development, said Ron Harriman, a consultant to the town.

The parcel is situated between and behind 394 and 444 Brewer Lake Road and stretches to the Brewer line.

Of the 13 to 15 people at the public hearing, five who own land near the parcel were vocal, mostly saying they didn’t want the land to be developed at all.

Town leaders and Brewer officials have been working together since 2000 to establish an industrial park at the end of Green Point Road that extends into Orrington and would be owned and operated by the two communities. They would share the cost of development and any tax revenues.

The decade-old partnership dissolved last year when Brewer officials wanted to apply for federal stimulus funds and Orrington leaders decided they were not ready. Brewer applied for the funds alone, creating a proposed business park on its land located off Wiswell Road.

Orrington is starting the process to create its own business and industrial park, and Thursday’s meeting was step one, Harriman said.

Tim Brochu of Civil Engineering Services Inc. of Brewer presented an outline of the project, which shows seven small lots near the entrance of the proposed industrial park, and one large lot that abuts Brewer and is separated by a wetland. The lots’ size would restrict their use, he said.

“It’s a business park,” Brochu said. “There is not going to be any really big high-traffic [uses]. They are going to be very small.”

Brochu explained that no matter what is developed at the site, pollution and runoff from it would be strictly controlled.

Code Enforcement Officer Richard Harriman, who is also the town assessor, said bringing in business and industry, such as the Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. substation that added $14 million to the tax rolls two years ago, is the key to keeping taxes low.

“We’d like to keep the mix going. This is part of it,” he said.

In addition to giving comments on the development, residents were asked whether they would want to restrict the Brewer Lake Road frontage lots for residential use only if the project were to be developed. Allowing homes in front of the business park to maintain a rural look was widely supported by those in attendance.

After hearing two hours of public comment, Louis Morin, Orrington planning board chairman, thanked the group and invited people to submit written comments in the next two weeks by mail to the town office or by e-mail to Richard Harriman at orringtonassessor@roadrunner.com.

Town planners will present their findings from the hearing to selectmen, who plan to ask residents at the June annual town meeting whether the zoning for the land should be changed from residential-farm to business and light industry, Morin said.

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