What does the Municipal Planning Assistance Program do?
The Municipal Planning Assistance Program (MPAP) provides a variety of services to citizens, municipalities, regional planning organizations, state agencies and the legislature. Our responses to the following Frequently Asked Questions will detail some of those services.
Can you provide data for my town's comprehensive plan or other local plan?
Upon request from a town, MPAP will collect and share a battery of state agency data appropriate and useful to towns undertaking a local comprehensive planning effort. Because we collect this information from a variety of state agencies, and do so only twice a year, the town should be sure to request one of our planning resource packages well in advance of needing the data. If your community is interested, please contact one of our staff members.
At Town Meeting, they mentioned something about state review of our comprehensive plan. What were they talking about?
MPAP does not provide consulting services for communities developing plans or ordinances, however, upon request from a town, MPAP is responsible for reviewing the town's comprehensive plan for consistency with the Growth Management Act (30-A M.S.R.A.§4301 et seq - "Planning and Land Use Regulation"). As part of its review, MPAP may advise a town on how specific elements of its plan must be adjusted in order for the plan to be consistent with the Act. Having a state "finding of consistency" for its comprehensive plan provides a town with a number of legal and financial benefits.
What can the MPAP do to help me implement a project in my town?
MPAP promotes growth management principles in local, state and federal policies, programs, regulations and investments. Having an MPAP finding of consistency for its comprehensive plan may help your town win state funding for various types of projects.
Can you answer my specific land use question?
MPAP does not interpret local ordinances, enforce state law or take sides in local debates about particular development proposals but, depending on staffing limitations, we may occasionally be able to facilitate the resolution of land use questions from individuals, municipalities and other organizations. Our staff is available on a limited basis to field specific land use questions over the phone or via e-mail, but we do not provide ongoing or in-depth technical assistance, research or consulting services to private individuals or communities. Who can help you? As a private citizen, the first place you should go is to your local planner, codes enforcement officer or other town official. You may also wish to consult with an attorney who is familiar with land use issues. If you are a town official, your regional planning organization (i.e. planning commission or council of governments) is available to answer questions and provide general technical assistance services to communities, but usually charge an hourly rate when a certain time threshold is surpassed. Our MPAP website includes a listing of regional planning organizations as well as private planning consultants who can provide services on an hourly or contract basis.
I have a question about interpreting state laws or local ordinances - can you help me?
We do not provide legal opinions, interpret local ordinances or determine compliance with state or federal law, however we may be able to help you figure out some of the questions you need to ask, and who you should be asking. Who can can offer more help? If you are a private citizen, we suggest you consult with your local codes enforcement officer, local board of appeals, or an attorney who is familiar with land use issues. If you are a town official, we suggest you consult your municipal attorney or the Maine Municipal Association (MMA).
Where can I find copies of DACF's Land Use publications?
Many of our publications, including manuals, guidebooks, model ordinances and technical assistance bulletins, can be downloaded at no charge from the MPAP's Publications webpage.
Where can I go to find out more about planning, land use, growth management and smart growth?
When the State Planning Office was eliminated in June 2012, its library was sent to the Maine State Library. The Maine State Library's collection includes many planning-related documents and publications, as well as a copy of most of the local comprehensive plans reviewed since the 1990s. Since assuming the review responsibilities of the former State Planning Office, DACF has continued to submit reviewed comprehensive plans to the Maine State Library. Many of the most comprehensive plans and other planning documents may be available on-line through the Maine State Library website.
Do you have copies of all the adopted comprehensive plans and land use ordinances in the State?
Neither MPAP nor the Maine State Library will necessarily have the most up-to-date town plans and ordinances. The best place to find a town's latest plan or ordinance is at the municipal office. The Maine Municipal Association has many local documents on-line, as do an increasing number of communities. MPAP does maintain a record of the status of local comprehensive plans and ordinances, including whether or not they have been found consistent with the Growth Management Act and, in many cases, whether or not they have been adopted by the local legislative body (i.e. town meeting, city council, etc.).
What else does the Municipal Planning Assistance MPAP do?
A lot! In addition to our direct work with towns and our review of plans and ordinances, MPAP coordinates with other state and federal agencies on land-use matters, participates in and supports regional planning efforts, and researches emerging land use policy issues for the legislature and planning community.
You didn't answer my question here. What do I do?
If you have additional questions, please contact us.