Bridging the Divide in Portland

An initiative to bring communities together in the face of change and growth.

The Context: What is Smart Growth?

Essentially, smart growth values sustainability by favoring long-range, regional thinking over short-term fixes.

Munjoy Hill Construction. Photo Credit: Corey Templeton

It is based on a range of development and conservation strategies that help protect our health and natural environment and make our communities more attractive, economically stronger, and more socially diverse.

Good community engagement is one of the hallmarks of smart growth. Smart growth gives communities choices in how they can respond to growth and change. To help community members understand these choices and work collaboratively with municipal staff and developers, GrowSmart Maine has been working to address the divide between residents, developers, and municipal government.

To this end, three documents have been created and are available here for download, print, and distribution.

  1. For Developers: How to hold neighborhood meetings that build support for your project

  2. For Citizens: The World of a Developer, Moving an Idea to Reality

  3. For Portlanders: Citizens’ Guide to the Commercial Development Process: Portland, Maine

If you have constructive feedback to improve these documents, send us a message!

GrowSmart Maine works across Maine and understands the need for such tools all over the state. Lend your expertise and help us improve them to increase their accessibility and applicability to rural and urban communities alike. These are a work in process and we invite your feedback.

We at GrowSmart Maine know that development decisions affect many of the things that touch people’s everyday lives — their homes, their health, the schools their children attend, the taxes they pay, their daily commute, the natural environment around them, economic growth in their community, and opportunities to achieve their dreams and goals.

What, where, and how communities build will affect their residents’ lives for generations to come.

Communities of all sizes are using creative smart growth strategies to develop in ways that preserve natural lands and critical environmental areas, protect water and air quality, and reuse already-developed land.

  • They conserve resources by reinvesting in existing infrastructure and rehabilitating historic buildings.
  • By designing neighborhoods that have homes near shops, offices, schools, houses of worship, parks, and other amenities, communities give residents and visitors the option of walking, bicycling, taking public transportation, or driving as they go about their business.
  • A range of different housing types makes it possible for senior citizens to stay in their neighborhoods as they age, young people to afford their first home, and families at all stages in between to find a safe, attractive home they can afford.
  • Through smart growth approaches that enhance neighborhoods and involve residents in development decisions, these communities are creating vibrant places to live, work, and play.
  • The high quality of life makes these communities economically competitive, creates business opportunities, and strengthens the local tax base.

GrowSmart Maine is the only statewide organization dedicated to expanding smart growth practices in Maine. We stand by you in the face of change and growth – please be in touch and allow us to help you navigate gracefully.

If you have constructive feedback about the documents above or would like to lend your expertise to this initiative, send us a message!