May 26, 2019

DEP approves road leading to Brewer park

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has given “oral clearance” to complete the road that connects the Maple Street extension to the East-West Industrial Park, Brewer’s director of Community and Economic Development said Tuesday.

John Melrose also said the DEP has given a similar go-ahead to Industrial Metal Recycling Co., which stopped building a road from behind its work yard on Spring Street to Maple Street because digging there uncovered containers that held possible toxic materials.

The City Council should approve the recently drafted road and street ordinance and submit that document to the DEP, Melrose added. Apparently the DEP found fault with the project because the city did not have an ordinance that set design standards for such a road.

“I think the council should pass this (ordinance) tonight and worry about it later,” Councilor Larry Doughty said at Tuesday’s meeting. Doughty was instrumental last summer in starting the project.

The council tabled the matter, however, which prompted Melrose to urge that the ordinance be approved at next Tuesday’s council meeting.

The council tabled the ordinance several weeks ago, saying the city should wait for comments from local engineers before approving the document. No comments officially have been forthcoming, though one engineering firm reportedly blasted the draft. The council asked for engineers’ opinions to ensure the ordinance would not discourage development in Brewer.

To councilors’ disbelief, it’s been 6 1/2 months since work began on the 30-foot-wide, 150-yard-long road across from the Brooks Brick Co. The road is intended to steer industrial traffic from neighborhoods on Maple and Spring streets.

Maple Street residents have complained for years that truck traffic from C.N. Brown Co. and Irving Oil Co. creates hazards in the neighborhood. Spring Street residents have aired similar complaints about the former Brewer Junk Co., which is now Industrial Metal Recycling.

So to solve the problem the city planned to close Maple Street to industrial traffic and to re-route trucks through the industrial park. Similarly, industrial traffic going to IMR would use a road that ran over the old, black Hackett Machine Co. buildings and that connected to Maple Street extension.

Work began Oct. 1 on the connector road without permission from the DEP. After that agency reviewed the city’s application for a permit, it determined that certain parts of the road’s design did not meet state road requirements.

“There’s a little blame to be shared all around,” Councilor Ronald Harriman said recently. “Most of it is with the DEP” and some of it lays with the city administration.

The DEP has said that before the connector-road is opened the city must put up a gate where Maple Street meets the extension, near the railroad tracks. The council has reluctantly approved that.

According to city staff, the DEP believes a gate will prevent traffic from traveling between South Main Street and Parkway South via Maple Street. Officials also fear that people who work in the industrial park might use the connector road to beat traffic.

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