Brunswick voters approve Question 1
Brunswick voters recently upheld the Coastal Protection
Zone Amendment by a narrow margin. The vote, which was held on November
6, passed by 2,241 to 1,851 votes and will be responsible for several
changes in the town's zoning regulations. The amendment was approved by
the town council in a 6-3 vote, but required a local referendum to become
law. The regulatory adjustment took effect immediately upon passage.
The amendment extends the pre-existing Coastal Protection
Zone from Pleasant Hill Road to Route One South of Brunswick. The enlarged
Protection Zone will require all new structures to be built on lots greater
than 3.5 acres of "buildable land," which excludes bogs, swamps
and other areas that may be a part of the lot. Previously the Coastal
Protection only required 2 acres of land for a structure to be built.
The purpose of the regulatory adjustment was to protect
Maquoit and Middle Bays from water pollution resulting from septic tank
runoff into the water table. Concern for these bays began when an algal
bloom caused a major die off, from which the bay has been recovering for
over ten years. While the last die off seems to have been caused by off
shore nutrients, recent studies of the bays have lead many to worry that
they are particularly susceptible to nutrient pollution (from septic runoff),
because of a shallow aerobic layer in the mud flats.
All homes in the newly expanded Coastal Protection Zone
are on septic tanks, because of the limitations of the town sewer system.
The regulation will limit the number of new homes built in the area, and
thereby limit the number of septic tanks that will drain into the water
tables of Maquoit and Middle Bays.
The regulatory adjustment met with considerable controversy.
Residents of the area included in the expanded Coastal Protection Zone,
as well as others within the community opposed the amendment. The primary
objection to the amendment was that it infringed the property rights of
landowners by disallowing some subdivisions of property. Both sides took
out local television and radio advertisements, and signs were posted in
front of homes on both sides of the issue throughout the town.
The debate on Question One spread to the Bowdoin Campus
when Professor Potholm asked students in his Maine Politics class to put
up signs in opposition to the amendment. In response, the Bowdoin Evergreens
supported the amendment and worked to register students to vote, as well
as disseminate information about the issue on campus.