Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Requesting an MLF EIS: an insightful letter


We recently obtained a copy of this letter sent to the Town Council by a very thoughtful resident of the Bouchard Drive neighborhood.

As you read and absorb the thoughts in it, think about what the corner of Stanwood and Pleasant Street looked like before the properties were torn down to provide a location for the new Police Headquarters.  That doesn’t happen over night, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t take long for a neighborhood transitioning to absentee ownership/rental property to see such changes.


‘Pride of ownership’ becomes irrelevant, and decay proceeds on a slippery slope.  We might even ask prominent local real estate professionals to comment on the phenomenon.


Herewith the letter:

Why the Town Council Should Request an Environmental Impact Statement

My name is J. Maurice L. Bisson, and I have lived in Brunswick for all of my sixty-seven years except for four years during which I served in the U.S. Air Force. I reside at 51 Bouchard Drive.

I am a certified public accountant having been in professional practice for forty years. Additionally, I am a part owner in Pleasant River Lumber Company, a sawmill operation located in four Maine communities employing nearly 200 Maine people with good pay and benefits. I have been involved in public service for many years, beginning as the Treasurer for Angus King’s gubernatorial campaigns, and I now serve as the Treasurer for his senate campaign. I have served as a member of the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) Board. I briefly served on the BDC and resigned because of issues I could not support. I am a founding member of the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition and currently serve as its Treasurer.

I heartily support Amtrak service to Brunswick. My wife and I built our home in 1979 fully expecting train traffic. We did not expect a building that is in excess of two football fields long perverting our neighborhood. So if an MLF is to be constructed in our living room, we’d best be very sure that it’s the right place for all affected stakeholders.

The reason I am writing to you today is that every resident within 1,000 feet of the proposed MLF, and the Blueberry Hill Nursery School (formerly J.A. French Printing), will be adversely affected because of pollution, vibration, noise and reduction in property values.

It is the latter to which the Town of Brunswick should be concerned. The Town of Brunswick is a stakeholder because the proposed MLF has already directly and significantly adversely affected property values and they continue to deteriorate. Accordingly, if the MLF is constructed at the current planned site, there will be collective applications for property tax abatements by many of the affected property owners. The BWNC coalition is already preparing to engage a consultant to assist in this effort.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared by NNEPRA is fundamentally flawed because it does not contain a professional assessment of the socio-economic impacts from the out-of-scale garage and from the project as a whole. It is the equivalent of the fox in the henhouse reporting on the safety and security of the chickens. Rather NNEPRA's socio-economic impact section of the EA is merely an ethnic profiling of only some of the total project impact area. Just the fear of this massive project that violates the Town's Comprehensive Plan and associated zoning standards has already adversely affected nearby property values and has changed the occupancy mix of the nearest residences from owner-occupied to owner-rented properties. Properties for sale have increased and sale prices are depressed. Even some Seller-Brokers do not disclose to prospective buyers details of the MLF project plans for fear of loss of sales and or reduced prices. Rather, the position is that it is the Buyer's and their Buyer-Broker's responsibility to research the area for disclosure of any major plans such as the proposed MLF.


In response to the EA, the BWNC prepared a comprehensive, detailed analysis and commentary submitted to the Federal Rail Administration (FRA). A copy of this document is available for review at Resource Systems Engineering. The document took an enormous amount of time and technical and research expertise and is available for review. An Environmental Impact Statement would provide an objective, impartial analysis of the facts.

The MLF will not provide any new taxable base to offset the devaluation of over 500 homes. Additionally, most of NNEPRA’s major purchases will be from wholesale contractors most likely not located in Brunswick (fuel, cafe car supplies, maintenance parts, waste disposal, etc) and no new jobs as these union contracted services will be imported from the current location in Portland.

The MLF has no relationship to train service to Brunswick. Our detailed analysis of ridership indicates that after fifteen months of operation, ridership exceeds 10% capacity approximately 10% of the time. In other words, ninety percent of the time, ridership is less than 10% capacity. More train trips to Brunswick because of an MLF will not increase ridership.

The MLF should be located closer to the hub than to end of the line if its purpose is to serve the needs of trains going to Brunswick and Lewiston-Auburn.

The FRA is the only remaining federal regulatory agency that can perform an EIS resulting in an objectively developed and established, complete, independent, Socio-Economic Impact Analysis with the full, formal and direct participation of all stakeholders; including The Town of Brunswick and severely impacted residents.

This is a legacy issue for the Town Council. The proposed MLF does not comport with the Town Master Plan1. If the worst case scenario comes to pass and the town council chooses to remain on the sidelines; it will be remembered for decades.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this matter.

1 Downtown residential neighborhoods are an economic asset to Brunswick, providing tax revenue and pedestrian traffic to downtown businesses and attractions. Housing options are increased, while preserving valued features of neighborhoods. Because of their livability and convenience, downtown neighborhoods are easily marketed and attract new families and individuals.


You can find the Downtown Master Plan here: http://www.brunswickme.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Adopted-Downtown-Master-Plan.pdf

Make sure you read “Our Downtown Vision” on page 7 of the document, which prioritizes, among other things, “Visual Quality” and “Neighborhoods.”

And don’t forget that when valuations decline in one area of town, the property tax burden shifts to areas where the values have not declined.


Technorati Tags: ,,,,

No comments:

Post a Comment