Last Updated: August 1, 2018
Review of the Adjacency Principle
The LUPC is proposing to update its zoning system. Right now, new zones for subdivisions and businesses must locate within one road mile of similar existing development, like an existing business or a cluster of camps.
- The one-mile test is a blunt planning tool, long-recognized as needing improvement. Existing, dispersed development can provide a springboard for new development into remote areas or onto undeveloped lake shores. This can affect the cost of providing public services (e.g., fire protection, ambulance) and impact forestry operations, wildlife habitat and the character of the UT.
- The economy in the Maine woods is changing; we must plan for the future. Recreation-based businesses and new types of wood fiber processing operations sometimes have difficulty finding suitable locations that are near the resources they need and also within one road mile of similar development. Existing development may not be in locations needed to support the evolving economy while still protecting the environment.
- We can do better. Thoughtful, well-planned refinement of the adjacency principle can better: support local and regional economies, protect the environment, respect private property rights, and ensure what we value about the UT continues for generations to come.
What are key objectives of the current proposal?
- Guide new development near town. Instead of basing new zones on existing development – which may be remote – focus rezonings to areas within two miles of public roads and within ten miles of rural hub communities that provide services. In townships and plantations directly abutting a rural hub, some zones for residential subdivision could locate within five miles of a public road.
- Limit new development farther from town, while recognizing the changing economy. Limit rezonings farther from rural hubs to types that depend on proximity to natural resources or are connected to recreation.
- Continue to protect the environment and natural resources. New development zones would not be allowed on undeveloped or lightly developed lakes, even if within one mile of existing development. Existing requirements that any rezoning not have an undue adverse impact on the natural resources, along with all environmental permitting standards, remain in place.
Will all areas eligible for rezoning be rezoned and developed?
- No. Forty years of experience tells us that most areas eligible for rezoning consideration will not be rezoned. That is, and will continue to be, the case. Environmental characteristics of a property, conservation easements, market conditions, and landowner intent, among other factors, will continue to shape and limit the demand for rezoning. The goal is to improve the system for guiding the location of new development so that when new development opportunities are pursued, they are pursued in the best locations.
What’s happening next?
Written comments can be submitted and Commission staff are available to help answer questions and provide additional information. To contact Commission staff: email Benjamin.Godsoe@maine.gov; write to Land Use Planning Commission, C/O Ben Godsoe, 18 Elkins Lane, 22 State House Station, Augusta, ME, 04333; or call (207) 287-2619.
- Outreach will continue. Commission staff will seek additional meetings with stakeholders, including: residents and property owners; municipal and county officials; guides and sporting organizations; environmental groups; organizations working on economic development or other regional planning in places served by the Commission; and any others who want to participate.
- The current draft proposal will be revised. Nothing is final yet. Input is still being sought, is welcomed, and will be incorporated into a future draft.
- The Commission will work to make an informed policy decision. Planning for the future can be complex. The Commission will strive to engage stakeholders and move beyond talking points – like these – and to develop sound and informed policy that benefits Maine for years to come.
To receive regular updates about this project or to find out about public comment opportunities, please enter your e-mail in the blue box above in the right hand column.
Guide to materials:
- View proposed adjacency rule revisions.
- IMPORTANT! The subdivision regulations are an important companion to the adjacency process. Please see the subdivision rule revision page for related materials.
- For a description of the proposal to refine application of the adjacency principle, please see Land Use Planning Commission Application of the Adjacency Principle Staff Proposal – Part One and Two Combined.
- For diagrams and maps see Application of the Adjacency Principle: Resource Dependent Locations, and Illustrative scale diagram with summary; and Statewide map showing Primary and Secondary Locations, and Conserved Lands
- For the proposed new approach to application of the adjacency principle, and specific recommendations, please see Memo from the 8/9/2017 meeting
- For summary of what’s been learned so far in the process, please see Memo from the 8/9/2017 meeting.
- For the public survey results, please see Findings from the Location of Development Public Survey
- For information about the purpose and function of the adjacency principle please see Memo from the 3/9/2016 and Memo from the 8/9/2017 meeting; and Permitting History.
- For identified issues with application of the adjacency principle (1-mile rule of thumb), please see Memo from the meeting on 3/9/2016 and Permitting History.