June 8, 2011
309 Cumberland Avenue
Portland, ME 04101
Town of Standish
175 Northeast Road
Standish, ME 04084
CONTACT: Nancy E. Smith or Gordy Billington
On June 7, 2011 the Standish Town Council adopted the extensive Standish Corner District Form-Based Codes — an essential step to stimulate a future vibrant town center, and a first in Maine. Form-based code protects the function and aesthetics of the traditional New England village setting while facilitating economic growth. Standish is the first town in Maine to adopt this innovative mechanism. This marks a significant step in a community planning process begun in 2003 with the ten-year update of the municipal Comprehensive Plan. In 2007, GrowSmart Maine selected Standish as the first Model Town Project community because of their readiness to implement their new Comprehensive Plan.
The Plan, with facilitation provided by the Greater Portland Council of Governments, contained a detailed implementation strategy with ongoing involvement from the Council, Planning Board, and citizens. Carol Billington guided the multi-year process in her various roles as Chair of the Comprehensive Plan Committee, Planning Board Chair, Village Design Committee, and the Ordinance Committee. “I think the key to this success is that we had the trust of the town. This is a very big change, but people understood and had been part of the process all along, and we had access to a lot of expertise from GrowSmart Maine, Greater Portland COG, and a private community planner, so there was no opposition when the final votes were cast.” When asked what this means for Standish, Carol replied, “Right now Standish Corner is just a commuter pass-through. With last night’s vote, it has the potential to be a place where citizens can use their village, and commuters can too. Our goal was to create economic opportunities, jobs for people in Standish.”
Mitchell Rasor, Principal, MRLD Landscape Architecture + Urbanism, developed a responsible development pattern for the Town’s principal crossroads and designated growth area, Standish Corners. Concurrently, GrowSmart Maine joined the effort under its Maine Model Town Project, with Bruce Hyman facilitating the process. Bruce provided the parallel public outreach efforts, and strong public consensus developed from his visioning exercises and corresponding key pad polling. Once public input was evaluated, the town contracted with MRLD to draft language for an extensive Form Based Code. This broad support empowered the Town to approve the ordinance, and to submit a successful grant application to the State to develop a network of pedestrian ways within the village as a spin-off of the planning efforts.
“Recognition has to be given to the countless hours of volunteer citizen time that led to the unanimous adoption of the Standish Corner District Code by the Town Council. This would not have happened without that strong citizen support and their patience and unwavering desire to transform the Town’s center into a vibrant village center”, stated Town Manager Gordy Billington.
Since its inception in 2002, GrowSmart Maine has engaged in conversations with the leaders and residents of Maine communities about the increasing growth pressures many towns are facing. We learned that many towns feel unprepared to deal with these often rapid changes in a way that is both effective and fair. We also found that where residents are more fully engaged in shaping the vision of their town's future, fewer problems arise when it comes time to implement changes or enact ordinances. The Maine Model Town Community Project was initiated to provide tools and advice to help a growing Maine town shape its future, with grants from The Orton Family Foundation, The Sam L. Cohen Foundation, The Leonard C. and Mildred F. Ferguson Family Foundation, and the Maine Community Foundation.
For more information on the Maine Model Town Community Project: http://www.growsmartmaine.org/standish/
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