Brunswick Council voted unanimously Monday to send a $2.5 million road project in Cooks Corner to a public hearing.

The project, which has been talked about for over a decade, would install a new access road to Brunswick Landing between Admiral Fitch Avenue and Gurnet Road. The 1,500-foot road would include two six-foot sidewalks, travel lanes, lighting, and traffic lights as well as new entrances onto Forrestal Drive.

The idea of a new access point first came up during the initial Brunswick Naval Air Station closure process, according to Linda Smith, economic development director for the town.

“We already were thinking about what some of the critical access points we would want to have,” she said.

The new road would accommodate additional traffic entering and leaving the former naval base. From just a handful of companies a few years ago Brunswick Landing has grown to 105 different business entities containing 1,500 employees. One of the largest employers on Brunswick Landing, Wayfair, is already at 400 employees and plans to expand by an additional 700 in the next few years.

“That company alone is going to be 1,200 employees hopefully by 2019,” said Smith.

All those employees, coupled with the growth of other businesses that attract visitors or customers, is going to strain the current access roads into the area, she said. The new road could also serve as an additional incentive for developers.

The money for the project will come from a combination of Tax Increment Financing revenue generated by both the Brunswick Landing TIF and the Brunswick Executive Airport TIF, contributions from the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and businesses in the area, and a Business Partnership Initiative grant from the Maine Department of Transportation to the tune of $815,000.

Councilor Steve Walker, despite approving of sending the issue to a public hearing, objects to the idea of spending $2.5 million on a project that will largely benefit private investors in the area. While businesses like Priority Real Estate Group and Cooks Corner box stores contributed land and some funding, he said the benefits outweigh the cost those businesses are taking on.

“I would think both entities would gain much more from fair market value of building of this road than what they’re putting in,” he said. He called the project a corporate benefit funded by taxpayers.

Some business owners agreed with his assessment. Ed Calan, owner of Sunshine Too Laundromat, said the motivation to rejuvenate the area is well intentioned but misguided.

“There are 18 empty retail locations, starting at the end of the runway where the gas station is, to just beyond my facility,” he said. “We are not revitalizing.”

He also expressed distaste that a few business owners were going to benefit the most from it.

“We’re looking in the future so Priority and all these other guys can make millions of dollars, and we continue to pay the dime for it,” he said. “They should pay for this road, this is going to benefit them immensely and they all know it.”

Town Manager John Eldridge acknowledged that the project would benefit corporations, but in the hopes that it would generate more revenue in taxes. “That’s why the BPI program exists.”

Other councilors took a complete opposite view. Councilor Kathy Wilson said she’s in full support of the project. “I’m so totally in favor of this, I almost can’t tell you how much.”

Wilson added that the project is key to rejuvenating the Cooks Corner area in the wake of the base closure.

Ultimately, the issue still needs to go before a public hearing. With the unanimous vote, the public will get a chance to weigh in on the project at the regular meeting on March 19.