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Home >2010 Meetings> Agenda & Minutes July 21, 2010

Maine Library of Geographic Information Board Meeting
Date:   Wednesday, July 21st   , 2010
Time:  10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Place: Burton M. Cross Building, Conference Room 105.


  • Approval of the June 16th  meeting minutes – Chair
  • Discussion of Funding with CIO Greg McNeal
  • Membership - All

# 6 -   Representing Municipal Government
# 15 - Representing the Public  

  • Strategic Plan Implementation Groups
  • Coordination & Communication –  Mike Smith, Dan Walters

        (i) plans for orthoimagery report outreach - one-page promotional sheet  and detail sheet distribution
      (ii) tracking article submissions to trade papers/journals

  • GeoParcels – Nancy Armentrout
  • Education & Training –  Tora Johnson (or designated Board member)
  • Geospatial Data – Joseph Young (or designated Board member)
  • Committee Reports
  • Financial Committee - Chair
  • Policy & Marketing Committee
  • Technical Committee – Christopher Kroot

     Status of GeoPortal

 NEXT SCHEDULED MEETING: Wednesday, August 18th , 2010,  10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Burton M. Cross Building, Conference Room 105.

Meeting Minutes                        

Dan Walters
Michael Smith
Nancy Armentrout
Kenneth Murchison (by phone)
William Hanson, Co-Chair
Daniel Coker
Greg Davis
Judy Colby-George
Aimee Dubois
Larry Harwood
Greg McNeal, Chief Information Officer, OIT
Brian Stearns, Sales Engineer, Delorme
Steve Weed, Assessor Town of Bar Harbor
Kirsten O’Connor, Pictometry
Joseph Young, State Planning Office

The meeting was called to order at 10:06 AM, Co-Chair William Hanson presiding. Lacking a quorum, the Chair moved to item 3 on the agenda.

3. Membership
Seat #6, Representing Municipal Government, was recently vacated by the resignation of Greg Copeland. Aimee Dubois reported that her nomination by the Maine Municipal Association to the President of the Senate is in process.

This will leave seat # 15, Representing the Public, vacant. It had been decided at the last meeting to put out a call for volunteers on the list servers. No one present had heard of any volunteers. Interested people had been asked to submit via mail a letter of interest and summary of experience to Larry Harwood by August 1st, so the Board looks forward to a report from Larry in August.
4. Strategic Plan Implementation Groups

Coordination and Communication
(i) plans for orthoimagery report outreach - one-page promotional sheet  and detail sheet distribution

Dan Walters reported that in an effort to promote the Orthoimagery Report he and Mike Smith have been discussing a sort of pilot project with the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG). The project, which is only conceptual at this point, would be to fly orthoimagery for Cumberland and possibly York counties funded by contributions from (hopefully) the federal, state and county governments. Ideally both counties – “section 3” in the Orthoimagery Report - would be flown for 2 foot resolution imagery. As a preparatory move, an approved vendor could be retained on a 5 year basis ready to proceed if the funding comes through.

Copies of the Orthoimagery Report, including the one-page overview sheet, have been delivered to the legislative committees that oversee the Geolibrary. It might be a good idea to follow this up by arranging for visits to some of the legislators to discuss the proposal.

Q: How exactly would the county governments be involved?
A: Theoretically, participating counties would assess a minimum fee for which all towns would receive the baseline orthoimagery products. This eliminates the traditional “haves and have-nots” situation. GPCOG approves of this approach.
Q: As an aside, my contacts tell me the forest industry is satisfied with the NAIP imagery, is that your understanding?
A: Yes, although we have some call for leaf-off from the foresters.
Q: How and when will we approach the legislators on the oversight committees?
A: We will start at the staff level and see what their schedules are.

(ii) tracking article submissions to trade papers/journals
The Chair  requested that anyone who has submitted articles to trade journals or plans to do so fill out the on-line Google docs tracking form for implementation groups. From the minutes of last meeting, the following are in progress:

  • The orthoimagery report plus the one-page promotional sheets will be circulated by Bill Hanson among the real estate interests, especially the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA).
  • Steve Weed will submit existing articles, i.e. the recent article on the NE LiDAR project, to the Maine Association of Assessing Officers (MAAO) fall newsletter. He will also check into display booths if any at the next convention.
  • Jon Giles will submit existing articles to the Maine Association of Wetland Scientists (MAWS), the Maine Association of Professional Soil Scientists (MAPSS) and the Maine Association of Site Evaluators (MASE)
  • Judy Colby-George will submit an article to the Maine Planners Association publication next year.
  • Christopher Kroot has agreed to work with the Technical Association of Maine to form one of their Panels on the Geolibrary. The application developers may also be able to help with development of the GeoPortal.
  • Nancy Armentrout has 2 articles on the GeoParcels project which will be circulated for comments.

At this time sufficient Board members had arrived to form a quorum. The Chair returned to item 1 on the agenda followed by a return to item 4.
1. Approval of the June 16th  Meeting Minutes
The Chair entertained a motion to approve the minutes. Mike Smith moved to approve the minutes as written. Aimee Dubois seconded. The Board voted 8 in favor, none opposed, no abstentions . The motion carried.

4. Strategic Plan Implementation Groups

Mike Smith and Nancy Armentrout  reported that the parcel viewer, which is nearly a copy of the Land Use Regulation Commission’s on-line parcel viewer is being worked on by OIT programmer Bob Bistrais and will be completed soon.

The Hancock County digital parcel composite is being prepared by Tora Johnson’s students at the University of Machias. The Hancock County Planning Commission is scanning the parcels maps that are not in digital format and sending the images to UMM to be geo-referenced and composited. Two towns have no tax maps at all.

The Maintenance process development will be worked out by a subgroup of the Hancock project team.  This work is due to start in August. There will be a meeting of the GeoParcels group immediately after the Board meeting.

As reported last time, the USGS funded intern Mike LaChance finished his work on municipal outreach and departed. It would appear that he had done all that could be done, at least in Hancock County,  on the primary municipal data targets, parcel data and zoning data. Of the $16,000 in funding available ( $10,000 from USGS and $6,000 from the Board) only $5,000 was spent. Although the remaining federal funds must be spent on municipal data, technically the Board could re-purpose its $6,000. Discussion opened on what to do and several ideas were discussed.

  • Expand and reach out to other entities such as county government, municipal planning boards, regional planning commissions and others.
  • Acquire additional municipal data such as utilities, shoreland zoning, etc.
  • Improve upon the attributes in the existing parcel data
  • Look at land use codes for existing parcel data
  • Add other parcel data outside of the project area to the viewer. These would not however have a link to the registry documents. Washington County for example is very interested in the project and would be very cooperative.
  • There was a question on what the parcel viewer did exactly. Mike Smith summarized the required functions, a complete list of which is in Attachment A.


Mike Smith moved to delegate the re-purposing of the $6,000 to the GeoParcels Workgroup. Dan Coker seconded. The Board voted 8 in favor, none opposed, no abstentions. The motion carried.

Mike Smith moved to instruct the GeoParcels Workgroup to make recommendations to USGS on re-allocating  the remaining Federal metadata assistance funds. Dan Coker seconded. The Board voted 8 in favor, none opposed, no abstentions. The motion carried.

Education and Training
Tora Johnson was not present and there was no report from the Group.

Geospatial Data
Dan Walters reported that the Geospatial Group  has been working on a land use code standard, albeit on the back burner. Janet Parker, State Planning Office (SPO) had previously done a considerable amount of research on land use codes in search of a standard. Standard land use codes were proposed by the federal government about 40 years ago and by the American Planning Association about 20 years ago. SPO also proposed a standard land use code based on the federal standard. However each individual municipality has a virtually unique land use coding system, if they have any at all and a state wide standard has never got much headway.

There was an extensive discussion of land use codes in the general vein of a lack of standards of which these are some of the main points.

  • The vendors of CAMA assessing software are not consistent either with land use codes. The most popular software seems to be TRIO marketed by a Maine vendor.
  • Some of the Board members and visitors had personal knowledge of municipal assessing and confirmed that no two towns were alike in land use codes.
  • There are other standards as well, Maine Revenue Service property tax division being mentioned as one.
  • The Geolibrary Board does have legal authority to set standards for data in the Geolibrary and this should be looked into as regards land use coding standards.
  • At the least the Board could approve and promote a standard as was done with the digital parcel standards.

Dan Walters moved to direct the Geospatial Data Workgroup to develop a recommendation on a land use coding standard and present it to the Board within 3 months, that is at the October meeting. Nancy Armentrout seconded. The Board voted 8 in favor, none opposed, no abstentions. The motion carried.

5. Subcommittee Reports

The Chair reported that work has begun on the funding campaign diagram of potential users, contributors to GeoLibrary projects and champions, (aka the spider-web) has proved to be more difficult even than expected. As was noted last time, a full or part time coordinator for projects such as this would be very desirable indeed.

Dan Walters, Joe Young and Mike Smith are working on a proposed budget. Mike noted that the cost of the GeoPortal, orthoimagery, core spatial data. LiDAR, web services and staffing are the principal components estimated to cost about $500K per year. The Finance Committee will be meeting again next month to review the budget and the rest of this initiative.

Mike Smith took the opportunity to explain the Maine Geospatial Architecture (MGA) initiative. Based in part on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure , this is a statewide system that will provide the basic elements to support enterprise GIS functions. There are five 'pillars' on which the MGA is based:

  • Core Spatial Data, a framework of  data layers which are required by a large number of users and have a common and consistent set of needs.
  • Infrastructure to provide access to the data and services
  • Applications to provide geospatial data and services to end users
  • Policies& Standards provide consistent results and predictable updates
  • Outreach & Education to allow easy use of geospatial applications, data and services including adequate metadata for geospatial data

Policy and Marketing
There was no report from the Committee today. After a short discussion the Chair appointed Vinton Valentine, now representing the University of Maine System, to be Chair of the Policy & Marketing Committee.

Mike Smith reported on the status of the GeoPortal.

  • As noted previously the uploading of metadata is not being actively pursued. 
  • 392 metadata records (for data layers) have been loaded so far. Of these 25% are state agency data the rest mostly municipal.
  • Some towns have loaded data other than parcels and zoning.
  • There is a new manager of the project at University Southern Maine, David Briggs.

Q: Is the MapFish viewer on the portal yet?
A: Only on the development server. It is not yet on the test server so we cannot see it.

2. Discussion of Funding with CIO Greg McNeal
The Chair welcomed Greg McNeal, recently appointed the state’s Chief Information Officer. Mr. McNeal addressed the Board regarding funding for some of the Geolibrary activities and part of Maine Office of GIS. His remarks are summarized as follows:

As everyone knows, state government is in a very bad budgetary situation despite the fact that we are currently running a small surplus of about $70M. In fact OIT has been given another curtailment order for about $500K by the Governor. OIT has been in the position of keeping service rates the same while trying to close our own budget deficit as costs go up. This has always been difficult but the next fiscal will be very rough indeed. There has been great resistance on the part of the state agencies to any increase in the service rates. This applies to everything but putting GIS services in the rates has been particularly difficult, perhaps because the agencies do not realize how much they use GIS.

Part of the GIS budget, about $446K which includes staffing and services to the Geolibrary, has been funded out of the CIO budget for some time. This may have to end in about a year’s time. It is time to look for other means of funding and we can certainly use the Board’s help in that effort. For one thing, we know that some businesses are making money on some of the GIS services provided free of charge. Is there a way to recover some of the cost of those services. Is there anything else we provide for free that we might be able charge for, bulk data transfers for example.

There was an extensive and wide ranging discussion of funding and related matters. The following is an outline of the main points made.

  • Charging for data transfers has been tried by MEGIS and has not been successful. The most a state agency can do is recover costs. It causes resentment among the municipalities and the general public. The private sector, rather than pay for existing free data will find another free alternative or perhaps just do without it.
  • An idea that has been around for some time is to add a small surcharge to the real estate transfer tax to fund GIS services. The idea has not been pushed because the suggestion has met with vehement protests. This may not be as politically unpopular as is thought if additional services can be provided in exchange. A small surcharge would be no real burden on anyone. Also there is a separate fee for registering maps as opposed to deeds and this might be an approach.
  • Another old idea is fees for ‘value added’ services as opposed to data transfers. Unfortunately, like the data transfers, rather than pay people will switch to a free service if there is one or do without it. The state agencies have perhaps negated this by already offering so many web services free of charge.
  • A good question is how much would it cost everyone concerned if all these GIS services were not available. It is very difficult to prove a negative however it should be possible to collect data on how much money is saved by state agencies having geospatial data and services.
  • Perhaps there is a politically important initiative or program that could carry GIS funding in its wake. In the past for example there was the “smart growth” initiative and there is the ever-popular “economic development”.
  • Fees or surcharges on permits might be an idea. A lot is funded in state government by permit fees and they are more politically palatable than taxes.

Wrapping up the discussion, Mr. McNeal noted that there is about a year to deal with the issues but that will pass quickly. He asked the Board for input on these specific items:

  • What funding options are there other than fees to state agencies
  • For these options what are the hard numbers in dollars
  • What are the Board’s talking points on these options
  • The Board must be ready to go with these by the next legislative session.

The Chair thanked Mr. McNeal for taking time to address the Board on these matters.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:40



Attachment A


MapServer Application Requirements

Application:  Maine Parcel Viewer
Baseline technology:  PHP/MapScript framework developed originally for Maine Geological Survey
Baseline symbology: Maine WMS basemap


  1. The application will show the same base symbology as the Maine basemap.
  2. The user will have the option of turning on or off an aerial photo layer showing NAIP 2009 imagery.
  3. The application will display parcel data (as available) per town, with labels to show map/lot#.  The user should have the ability to turn these layers on/off.
  4. The application will display town zoning information (as available) per town, with labels to show zone designations.  A legend or link to descriptive text/PDF for each town will indicate the meaning of the codes.  If a basic symbology framework can be defined for zones, it should be used..  The user will be able to turn this layer on or off.
  5. The application will display wetlands from NWI with the ability to turn that layer on/off.
  6. The application will display landcover from the MELCD2004 data with the ability to turn that layer on/off.
  7. The "Legend" button will show a legend based on symbology.
  8. The application must follow the same user workflow for searching as the MGS and LURC applications.  That is, a user first selects a town from a dropdown box, and then selects a map/lot# from another dropdown box or selects a location on the map or enters an address.
  9. The application must allow a user to optionally add a buffer distance which would thus select abutting parcels.
  10. For each location chosen, the "Results" tab will show the location (as either an address entered, map/lot#, or a lat/long selected on the map) with the results.
  11. The parcel results for each query will include:
    1. town
    2. parcel map/lot
    3. address
    4. owner (optional)
    5. phone (optional)
    6. last book/page# from county register
  12. Searches and results will be cumulative until a user clicks the 'Clear Search Results' button.
  13. The 'Results' tab will allow a user to print out a printer-friendly map and simple report.
  14. Feedback button will do a 'mailto' to an email address provided by ConnectME
  15. Zooms against basemap data and attribute queries should return results in 8 seconds or less.
  16. Help file will document the user workflow to use the application.
  17. The application will use the E911 data as the source for geocoding where available.  The application will use the NavTEQ data where E911 is not available.  The application will use the geocoding services already available in ArcGIS Server.

National Agriculture Imagery Program, 1 meter, color, leaf-on imagery provided free by the Federal Dept. of Agriculture.

Due to members arriving and departing during the meeting, the numbers may change.

Unless otherwise indicated, the Chair abstains from all votes.

Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal.

The enabling legislation can be viewed here