GrowSmart at a Glance – April-June 2018 

We offer to our subscribers this overview of our work across Maine in the second quarter of 2018. If you aren’t already a member, please consider supporting these programs at http://growsmartmaine.org/membership/donate/ 

The mission of GrowSmart Maine is to build lasting prosperity without sacrificing the quality of life that defines Maine. We achieve our mission through community engagement, events and advocacy.  Each informs the other as we seek those areas where our unique perspective will have the greatest impact. 

This spring, GrowSmart Maine (GSM) advanced significant community efforts in the Midcoast and Sanford, hosted forums and partnered in conferences throughout Maine while pulling together plans for our October 11th Summit.  We shared responses to our Gubernatorial Survey and invited candidates to be a part of the Summit program.  Maine’s first Smart Growth Awards are in the works, also to be presented at the Summit.  Our advocacy reached from DC to the UT, covering issues related to planning, growth, and federal investments.   

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT 

Making Headway in Sanford: is in development, with strong community support and funding from the Bingham Program and Sam L Cohen Foundation. Program focus will be the Lafayette School neighborhood, as this building is scheduled for closure and reuse in the next few years. Small projects chosen by the community will connect long term economic development efforts with the more immediate needs faced by Sanford residents and business owners. 

Maine Alliance for Smart Growth:  The Alliance hosted its first public event on May 8th; a workshop entitled “Rising Water: Adapting Maine Communities”. This workshop. designed for those interested in how their city or town can access resources and tools to better respond to imminent threats of flooding, was attended by 20 people from several businesses and communities from Belfast to Norway and Bingham. Resources are found on the event web page: http://growsmartmaine.org/workshop-adapting-to-rising-water/  

The Alliance steering committee met in May to discuss potential priority issues for the 2019 Legislative issue and to discuss areas of common interest at the federal level. We’ll finalize this list in September.  

Climate Table/Energy Efficiency and Messaging:  Tyler led a Maine Climate Table ‘Communicating with Mainers on Climate Change’ Workshop at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm on Monday May 21st. The Climate Table is actively recruiting additional hosts for these trainings emphasizing sector and geographic diversity. Hosts must provide a venue, an audience of at least 25, and must cover the $10 fee of the printed toolkit for each attendee. We have created a simple form for interested hosts to fill out so we can prioritize and coordinate the year’s schedule of training which can be found here: https://www.maineclimatetable.org/host-a-training/ 

Farm-friendly Communities: Nancy continues to work with Kennebec West, a regional working group developing municipal approaches to support agriculture and farmers in communities of western Kennebec County. On June 12th, Monmouth became the second municipality in Maine to approve an ordinance facilitating the Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program, which allows for property tax refunds to eligible farms.  Next step is to create an application process in time for interested farms to be accepted into the program by voters on November 6th.  

OTHER OUTREACH: 

Gubernatorial Candidates:  We invited candidates to answer questions related to planning, the rural economy, transportation, community development, energy, school funding and taxation and governance. These components of smart growth were chosen for their significance to Maine’s future and responses shared to help all Mainers make informed decisions about leadership based on our mission of building lasting prosperity without sacrificing the quality of life that defines Maine. We are pleased with a very strong response rate and shared those responses broadly.  For those Independent and Party-affiliated candidates still eligible for November’s election can be found here:  https://growsmartmaine.org/2018-maine-gubernatorial-survey/   

We invited these candidates to our Summit in Bangor on October 11th. 

Next Generation Land Conservation: Nancy is representing GSM in this stakeholder group assessing the accomplishments, as well as the challenges, of 30 years’ land conservation through the Land for Maine’s Future program and to lay the groundwork for a new generation of land conservation in Maine. Learn more: https://www.maineconservationtaskforce.com/ 

Digital Equity: On April 30th, GrowSmart Maine agreed to serve on the Advisory Committee for Axiom Technology/Axiom Education & Training Center’s National Digital Equity program. Digital equity is defined as affordable broadband and equipment, digital literacy training and access to public computers.  Learn more: http://digitalequitycenter.org/ 

Mainers headed to DC:  GrowSmart Maine invited numerous municipal leaders to join Smart Growth America (SGA) in DC for a “First&Main” conference.  Here over 100 local elected officials from 33 states shared with their Congressional delegation the value of federal programs for municipalities investing in their future.   Michael Madore, Town Counselor of Millinocket, and Samantha Paradis, Mayor of Belfast, represented Maine in this event.  Learn more here:  https://firstandmain.org/ 

EVENTS: 

Summit 2018, October 11th, in Bangor, The Power of Localism: Tapping into a Maine Tradition” is coming together with a portion of the day highlighting “The Bangor Experience” as well as statewide sessions for which we are accepting proposals through early August. Bruce Katz will offer remarks related to his new book, “The New Localism” and we’ll hear from Jase Wilson of Neighborly for a look at a new way people can Invest in the future they want by financing public projects around the country or in their hometown, while earning interest on their investments with municipal bonds. https://neighborly.com/  and https://www.brookings.edu/book/the-new-localism/ 

New this year, our Summit will feature Smart Growth Awards to recognize diverse activities that contribute to smart growth and illustrate the benefits it brings. 29 submissions have been received and will be considered by our judges; Charlie Colgan, former state economist; Kate Dempsey, executive director of Maine’s Nature Conservancy; and Evan Richert, former head of state planning and Orono community planner.  

More information on the upcoming Summit here

Forums: Be sure to visit our events listing for the most current and complete information about GSM events: http://growsmartmaine.org/events/smart-growth-forums/   

Falmouth Smart Growth Developers Forum: On April 24th we partnered with the Town of Falmouth to hold a forum on redevelopment opportunities and alignment with smart growth for the Rte. 1 corridor.  This event is a direct result of discussions at the 2017 GrowSmart Summit about how to bring a town’s plans to actual outcomes.  One critical step is to talk directly with developers about the goals and strategies identified by the municipality. 

Senior Housing Conference:  On May 31st in Belfast, GSM focused on accessory dwelling units as a response to aging in place, sharing our educational brief with a listing of major components of municipal ordinances as a resource for other towns.  GSM is quoted in the April Downeast magazine story titled “Granny Flat Redux”.

Maine Broadband Conference: Also on May 31st at Thomas College in Waterville, this second annual conference was deemed a tremendous success by participants who appreciated the mix of Maine success stories in both planning and implementation of municipally-driven broadband and national speakers sharing expertise to make it happen.  

ADVOCACY:

Find our testimony here: http://growsmartmaine.org/blog/ 

Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC); Adjacency and Subdivision Rules:  GrowSmart invited new partners in our efforts to ensure caution and full engagement of towns surrounding the Unorganized Territories (UT) as LUPC staff draft rules with the potential for significant impact for undeveloped areas and these communities.  As a result, Maine Municipal Association is now working with LUPC staff to connect with towns likely to be impacted by the location of allowed subdivisions in the UT.  Our testimony at the April 11 and June 20th public hearing is to ensure development is encouraged in proximity to rural communities in the area, something closer than the current proposal of 10-miles and further. 

Federal:  GSM joined a broad coalition brought together by the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition to advocate for sufficient and strategic funding for non-defense federal programs.  This alliance, named Maine Together, is much broader than housing, including conservation and community organizations.  This is likely one of the most effective ways to engage nationally, and Maine will be important, given the key roles our two Senators are playing in many federal policy issues.  The website is still in preliminary form but can be viewed at https://mainetogether.org/ 

 

We offer to our subscribers this overview of our work across Maine in the second quarter of 2018. If you aren’t already a member, please consider supporting these programs at http://growsmartmaine.org/membership/donate/