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Rural Business Develoment Zone created
AROOSTOOK COUNTY – The Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) recently adopted zoning rules that provide opportunity for rural business to locate and grow in new areas of Aroostook County. The rule changes establish a rural business development zone that can be used by businesses and property owners to accommodate business development in 30 towns, townships and plantations across Aroostook County that are part of the unorganized and deorganized areas of the state. The changes are a product of the LUPC’s Community Guided Planning and Zoning (CGPZ) initiative, which joins with local partners to help regions identify their land use needs and plan for the region’s future.
“This is an example of how state government can assist local communities in strengthening rural economies by removing regulatory hurdles that impede economic development,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The LUPC’s work with local partners in Aroostook County demonstrates that a pro-job planning approach can be taken without adversely impacting Maine’s environment.”
“The Governor has been very clear since day one that he wants to create more jobs and economic opportunities in rural Maine,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “I commend the hard work of our Aroostook County partners and the Land Use Planning Commission. Their work promotes a more user-friendly model for activities that impact unorganized and deorganized areas in Maine.”
In Aroostook County, Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) and a citizen steering committee worked with the LUPC to develop new zoning opportunities and improve the business climate in the county.
“We recognize that home-based and other rural businesses are an important part of the economy in Aroostook County,” said Nick Livesay, Director of the LUPC. “The dedicated residents and other stakeholders who served on the steering committee, with support from NMDC and the Commission, have developed regulatory changes that give new opportunity for business growth in rural northern Maine.”
The rule changes developed in Aroostook County are the first to come out of the LUPC’s CGPZ initiative and become effective on May 9. Efforts to improve the effectiveness of land use planning and provide for economic development opportunities in the unorganized and deorganized areas of Maine have focused, in part, on the need for more locally guided and proactive planning for these areas. This is a result of 2012 legislation that called for more prospective zoning and emphasized the LUPC’s role in honoring the rights and participation of residents and property owners in the areas of the state that it serves. The LUPC will continue to collaborate with partners in Aroostook County to plan for future land use needs, and is working with local and regional partners on similar CGPZ projects in other regions including, in Franklin, Somerset, and Washington counties.
Public input needed for creation of small Business Development District
Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) and the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) are seeking public input about the creation of a new development subdistrict in the unorganized townships and plantations of Aroostook County.
Should new businesses be able to locate in Aroostook County’s unorganized townships or plantations? Where should these new business be located? How easily can an existing business expand? These are the questions that the Aroostook County Community Guided Planning and Zoning Steering Committee have been working on for the past year. To help with this objective of assisting business expansion in the UT, the Committee is considering the creation of an Aroostook County Small Business Development subdistrict. The Steering Committee believes the creation of this subdistrict will play a positive and important role in the economy of the area. The subdistrict will enhance and diversify the economic opportunities for residents and visitors to Aroostook County. The expansion of commercial uses beyond traditional forestry and agriculture will help bring money and jobs to the County. Allowing easier and predicable land use regulations for small businesses, particularly those that manufacture value-added products, will also help stem out-migration.
This subdistrict is designed to encourage a wide range of small commercial, light manufacturing, and public facilities that may create impacts incompatible with residential uses, recreation uses or resource management. These businesses are typically larger than a permissible home-based business, but are not large-scale commercial or industrial developments. It will encourage the commercial expansion of facilities that are suitable for growth because of proximity to hub communities, service centers or major transportation corridors, despite generating some traffic, noise, odor and visual impacts. This subdistrict will be located in areas where it has no undue adverse impact on existing uses and resources.
The committee utilized the four criteria below to determine where this new subdistrict could be easily located.
- Contain a public road;
- Contain or are close to populated areas;
- Are close to service centers, retail hubs or major employers;
- Contain or are close to areas with substantial levels of structural development or land divisions
The following townships and plantations potentially qualify for the new subdistrict: St. John Plantation, Cross Lake Township, T17 R4/ Sinclair, Cyr Plantation, Hamlin, Connor Township, Winterville Plantation, Nashville Plantation, Garfield Plantation, Oxbow Plantation, E Township, Moro Plantation, Cary Plantation, Benedicta Township, Silver Ridge Township, Reed Plantation, Macwahoc Plantation, Molunkus Plantation, Hammond, T7 R5
T8 R5, T9 R5, T14 R6, Glenwood Bancroft (deorganized as of June 1, 2015).
A series of public meetings to gain input are scheduled for April 13 at the Van Buren Community Center, April 14 at the Fort Kent Town Office, April 15 at the Department of Conservation Office in Ashland and April 16 at the Oakfield Community Center. All meetings are from 6-8 p.m.
For more information, please contact Jay Kamm, Senior Planner, Northern Maine Development Commission at 498-8736 or email@example.com. To review the concept, click here.
MFPC Letter w Timeline
Community Guided Planning & Zoning (CGPZ) is an initiative of the Maine Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC or Commission) through which the LUPC will assist regions to proactively plan for land uses in Maine’s unorganized and deorganized areas (the UT). This prospective planning and zoning initiative will provide those living, working, and owning land, as well as others with a direct interest in a region, an opportunity to evaluate the present and future land use needs for their region and to develop a strategy for meeting these needs. Prospective planning and zoning also will allow the LUPC to ensure greater predictability of land use regulation for businesses, property owners, and others with an interest in the use of land and development patterns in the UT.
Many approaches to planning proactively for land use in the UT are possible through CGPZ. The goal is to produce practical and effective recommendations – perhaps for a rezoning, the creation of new zones, a transportation and infrastructure plan, an industrial growth plan, a recreation plan, an open space strategy, a habitat connectivity strategy, a comprehensive plan for a specific area, or some other approach or some combination of the above approaches – in light of the need for more prospective or proactive planning, particularly in identifying appropriate areas for economic development.
After an open application period, the LUPC selected Aroostook County as the first region to participate in the CGPZ process. The Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) prepared this proposal and is now facilitating the planning process. NMDC has appointed a Steering Committee representing diverse interests whose task will be to lead the planning effort, conduct regular meetings open to the public, and develop a draft final report and recommendations. As described in NMDC’s Process Document – a document developed by the Steering Committee which outlines the planning structure the process is designed to provide opportunities for a broad spectrum of residents, property owners, and interested parties to participate, as well as to allow for a respectful consideration of different views. This work will take place at meetings held by NMDC starting in the Fall of 2013, with video conferencing available. These meeting are open to anyone interested and the public is encouraged to attend.
WHAT IS PROSPECTIVE PLANNING AND ZONING?
Prospective planning and zoning is a process that allows residents, property owners, businesses and other interested parties in the UT to work together to plan for future land uses of specific areas, including to allow for new appropriate uses which may include business, residential and/or recreational uses. Rather than a “top – down” plan from a State agency, this is an opportunity for a locally-driven redrawing of the map in the UT where co-operative, “bottom – up” solutions can be agreed upon by the participants and documented for LUPC consideration.
In regions that participate in a prospective planning and zoning process, suitable areas may be identified prospectively for commercial, residential and/or recreational uses, so that businesses and property owners can propose new uses with greater assurance that the proposal is appropriate for that location.
A CGPZ process may include, or result in, rezoning of specific areas for future development. This may allow businesses or property owners to propose new uses or development without the need for seeking a rezoning of the land. This would allow proposed projects to go straight to the application processes for the actual development work, thereby simplifying and expediting the review process. New prospectively zoned areas may allow residents, property owners, businesses and other interested parties to plan ahead with greater confidence for strategic investment in land use decision-making, whether for commercial and residential development, resource management or conservation.
WHAT IS THE LUPC’S ROLE AND WHAT IS IT LOOKING FOR?
The LUPC is a nine-member board charged with overseeing land use planning and much of the land use permitting in the UT, an area that covers almost half of the State. The Commission acts much as a planning board would in an organized town. Among the LUPC’s responsibilities, as set forth in State law, is to encourage appropriate residential, recreational, commercial and industrial land uses; to honor the rights and participation of residents and property owners in the UT while recognizing the unique value of these lands and waters to the State; to discourage the intermixing of incompatible industrial, commercial, residential and recreational activities; and to encourage well-planned and well-managed multiple uses, including conservation, of land and resources and to encourage and facilitate regional economic viability.
Ultimately, any product developed through the CGPZ process will require Commission acceptance if it is to be implemented by the Commission and any rezoning or modification to the Commission’s rules must satisfy statutory criteria. Throughout the CGPZ process, LUPC staff will assist NMDC and the Steering Committee by providing information and highlighting the relevant statutory requirements. This will help ensure that the result of the Aroostook region’s significant commitment of time and resources will both achieve local goals, and be consistent with LUPC’s statutory review criteria as well as the Commission’s statutory purpose and guiding principles.
When the LUPC receives the maps, plans or recommendations that the Steering Committee and NMDC produce, the Commission has identified a set of Overarching Principles that it will apply when determining whether to approve and act upon the recommendations. The product of the CGPZ effort and the process through which it is developed must:
- Ensure a locally driven, locally desired process
- Encourage broad participation
- Respect property owner equity
- Balance regional uniqueness and statewide consistency for stakeholders
- Be consistent with statutory purpose and guiding principles
These principles are furthered by NMDC’s Process Document.
The goal of land use planning in the UT is to encourage the well-planned and well-managed multiple use, including conservation, of land and resources and to encourage and facilitate regional economic viability. It is hoped that Aroostook County will become a model for using the CGPZ process as a path to a stronger economic future.
WHAT CAN YOU CONTRIBUTE?
Are you a business owner, property owner, resident or otherwise familiar with some portion of the unorganized and deorganized areas of Aroostook County? Please consider participating in the Community Guided Planning and Zoning process. Your opinion and perspective will be valuable to the Steering Committee.
For more information email
Jay Kamm or call 498-8736 or toll free in Maine at 1-800-427-8736.
Links and Documents
Blog/Commentss and Minutes
Agendas and Minutes
Powerpoint and Presentations
CGPZ Soils Map Book
LUPC Zoning Map Book
CGPZ Pacels Map Book
CGPZ Industrial Facilities Map Book
CGPZ Regional Map Book
Land Use Districts and Standards
Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Planningrestry Planning
State Parks and Public Lands Management Plans
LUPC Comprehensive Land Use Plane Land Use Plan
Community Guided Planning and Zoningng and Zoning
Aroostook County Tourism Plan