A rendering of the Wilbur’s Woods housing development planned for Brunswick that was approved under a fast-tracked planning process. Courtesy of GreenMars Real Estate Services, Inc.

Wilbur’s Woods, an affordable-housing project planned for McKeen Street, is set to proceed after Brunswick’s Zoning Board of Appeals struck down an appeal against the proposal Thursday night.

The Zoning Board voted unanimously to accept the Planning Board’s finding that the apartment designs were architecturally compatible with the neighborhood. The compatibility approval made back in May was part of a process to address one of 13 arguments outlined in an appeal by neighbors opposed to the project.

In April, the Zoning Board struck down all arguments except one — that the apartment building was too large and would “dwarf neighbors” — which was sent back to the Planning Board for review. GreenMars, the developer of the project, submitted at new design showing a shorter, 2 1/2-story building that the Planning Board approved after some debate.

Chris Teel, a Brunswick resident who filed the appeal on behalf of those neighboring the development site, asserts that the Planning Board made a mistake — a sentiment echoed by many residents who attended the public hearing.

“This is not [about] affordable housing,” Teel said at the hearing. “This is about a massive, three-story structure in the middle of a neighborhood.”

Teel argued in the final hearing that in the May meeting, the Planning Board failed to have dialogue and that the renderings provided by GreenMars were false and misleading. He also argued in his final statement that the board members brought up the need for affordable housing as a reason to approve the design, which he said was off-topic.


A new rendering of the Wilbur’s Woods apartment building shows a two-and-a-half-story building in the development planned for McKeen Street. The Brunswick Planning Board approved the new design on May 14 as part of a pending appeal that residents filed against the affordable housing project earlier this year. Courtesy of GreenMars Real Estate

Robert M. Liscord, an attorney representing GreenMars, maintained that the Planning Board had sufficient evidence to approve the project.

“Under the zoning ordinance of the town, that’s defined actually more clearly than some town ordinances, specifically calls out size, mass and design of the buildings,” Liscord said. “I think it’s important to focus on making sure that those three elements were before the Planning Board when they made their decision.”

During deliberations, board Chairperson Nicholas Livesay said that he had been “wrestling” with the nature of the appeal.

“In reflecting on this entire matter, I can very much appreciate some of the concern and frustration with sort of the scale and nature — not architectural compatibility — but folks expressed a lot of concern about sort of the density in a residential neighborhood and we went through a lot of those factors at the last [Zoning Board] meeting,” Livesay said prior to voting. “I can certainly appreciate the sentiment that many people have in the room and … not an easy decision for any of us.”

The final vote to strike down the final argument drew boos from the audience, many of whom were appellants in the case.

GreenMars applauded the decision and said that it in a month and a half it will start working to put phase one of the project, which entails 21 below-market rate, Scandinavian-style condominiums, in motion. All homes have been reserved by potential buyers as of June 7, according to the Wilbur’s Woods website.

“The town’s rejection of the appeal is a huge win for these hopeful residents to-be. It’s also a win for the growing number of Mainers who are quite simply priced out of the housing market — maybe this win will make it easier for other towns to welcome affordable housing developments,” Developer Nate Green of GreenMars said. “There are 21 families eager to become residents of Brunswick, and I truly hope we can move forward without additional resistance.”

The board is required to issue its written decision of the appeal within a week.

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