Brunswick, Maine

The Town of Brunswick, population 15,175 (2010), is located midway between Portland and Augusta, Maine along Interstate 95. Its eastern boundary is created by the Androscoggin River and its southern boundary is formed by the bays and points of the Atlantic coastline.

In 1986, the Town adopted a TDR program designed to preserve land for recreation, conservation and the protection of water quality, natural features and historical resources. In this program, the receiving sites had to be located in the Mixed Use Zone II but sending sites could be any land found eligible for protection regardless of its zoning.

The TDR program was never used and the Town eliminated the TDR provisions when a new zoning ordinance was adopted in 1997.


In the Brunswick TDR program, sending sites could be located in any zoning district. However, the Town had to determine that the proposed sending site was within one of the following five categories:

  • Land within the Natural Resources Overlay Zone;
  • Land important for water quality protection;
  • Land with unique historical or natural features;
  • Land furthering the objectives of the Conservation Commission; or
  • Land furthering the objectives of the Recreation Commission.

TDRs could be created when ownership of a sending site passed to an entity approved by the Planning Board subject to covenants also approved by the Planning Board. Alternatively, TDRs could be formed by the placement of an easement on the sending site. This easement could either be perpetual or a minimum of 25 years if approved by the Planning Board. The Planning Board also had to determine that the easement would be transferred to an entity with the financial capability to administer and enforce the easement.

Proposed receiving site projects were parcels within the Mixed Use Zone II, a district which allows a wide range of commercial and light industrial uses as well as residential. A receiving site development using TDR had to be consistent with the Brunswick Comprehensive Plan, located on a parcel at least ten acres in size and be served by a public sewer system.

As a matter of right, the Mixed Use Zone II has the following requirements: building footprints can occupy 25 percent of the site; impervious surfaces can cover 40 percent of the site; and residential density can be a maximum of one unit per 80,000 square feet of lot area. However, projects approved to use TDR could have a building footprint factor of 50 percent, impervious surface coverage of 70 percent and a density of one unit per 5,000 square feet of lot area. In other words, a developer could enjoy a density bonus of 1500 percent with a TDR-based project that was able to comply with the footprint and coverage limits as well as other requirements.

The Mixed Use Zone II also allowed TDR to be used in business office and light industrial receiving site projects. As with residential, these commercial/industrial receiving site projects had to be consistent with the Brunswick Comprehensive Plan, located on a parcel at least ten acres in size and be served by a public sewer system. As with residential projects, commercial/industrial developments using TDR could double their building footprints and increase coverage from 40 to 70 percent of the receiving site.

For both residential and commercial/industrial projects, the amount of sending site land which had to be deed restricted was equal to the difference in land coverage at the receiving site resulting from increasing the maximum gross density factor from 50 percent to a maximum of 70 percent. For example, if a project on a ten-acre receiving site used TDR to increase lot coverage from 40 to 70 percent, the additional lot coverage would be 30 percent or three acres; consequently, three acres of sending site land would have to be preserved before the Town could approve the receiving site project.

Program Status

The Brunswick program offered a 1500 percent density bonus to receiving site developers, one of the highest found in this book. Nevertheless, Phil Carey, Planner for Brunswick, reported in the mid 1990s that the program was not generating any transfers possibly because developers in Brunswick were satisfied with the density they could get without buying TDRs. At that time, Carey also noted that the use of TDR was limited to the Mixed Use Zone II, a district that only covers approximately 250 acres.

In a December 1998 update, Carey reported that the TDR provisions were not retained when the Town adopted a new zoning ordinance in May of 1997.