As the most recent legislative session came to an end, State Representative Richard Campbell (R-Orrington) presented a bill with the potential to truly change the way communities plan for their future. LD 1528 outlines a proposal to ensure that state-level resources are readily available to communities across Maine.
GrowSmart Maine is working with Rep. Campbell in convening a stakeholder group to develop the details of the proposal. The group, which includes representatives from municipalities, planners, developers and realtors, downtown revitalization and historic preservation, and environmental and natural resource sector organizations will present specific recommendations to the Legislative Committee on Environment and Natural Resources when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
The first meeting was highlighted by a discussion with John Norquist, CEO of the Congress for New Urbanism based in Chicago. John offered a national perspective on market solutions to counter sprawl, which increases the costs of providing services, pulls growth away from our downtowns and adds development pressure to open space and productive farmland and forest land.
GrowSmart Maine knows that Mainers want to get involved in the local decisions that impact how their town manages growth, whether in an area with increasing demands on infrastructure or places where any growth is seen as a good thing. With a connection to information, best practices and model ordinances, they can do just that.
Rep. Campbell believes this is an important effort, saying, “Zoning has separated and segregated communities. Municipalities need to allow for smaller lot front porch living with mixed uses or we will lose community forever. The state must lead with models to encourage change before it’s too late. Our goal now is to identify as many as possible and then develop strategies to make them easily available to Mainers who want to have a say in how their towns grow.”