Aroostook Region - Community Guided Planning and Zoning

Last Updated: March 25, 2016

The "Million Dollar View Scenic Byway” along US Route 1 in Aroostook County

Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) submitted a letter of interest proposing the unorganized and deorganized areas of Aroostook County (UT) for Community Guided Planning and Zoning. In February, 2013, the Commission selected Aroostook County to be the first region to participate in a CGPZ project.

The planning area in northern Maine encompasses 4,500 square miles and includes all of the UT in Aroostook County. This rural landscape features industrial forest, farms and agricultural land, significant natural resources, mineral deposits, abundant wildlife habitat, as well as residential and commercial development. Many natural resources important for the sustainable economic development of Aroostook County and the State of Maine can be found in this region.

The initial planning effort took place over two years and resulted in proposal of a new subdistrict that would be available in certain locations in Aroostook County. The purpose of the Rural Business Development Subdistrict (D-RB) is to encourage an appropriate range of business development in rural areas, and locate development in or at the edge of existing development and in concentrated areas along appropriate portions of major transportation corridors. The locations for development are selected to maintain the rural character of the region and avoid significant visual, natural resource, and fiscal impacts of unplanned growth. The D-RB subdistrict would include areas that ae generally compatible with, and complimentary to, natural resource-based land uses, but may create some adverse impacts to residential uses, recreation uses, or resource protection.

The Process

The initial CGPZ planning effort included three distinct phases: Pre-planning, Land Use Planning, and Adoption & Implementation. The project is currently in the Adoption & Implementation Phase.

The Pre-planning Phase included public workshops to measure regional interest in a CGPZ project and to define the process by which such a project could move forward. Professional facilitators ran the workshops and helped coordinate the pre-planning process. The Commission worked with NMDC and a steering committee to develop a document that described the proposed planning process, reflected time and resources available for the project, and reflected the basic CGPZ principles outlined by the Commission.

CGPZ Aroostook Region meeting with stakeholders

The Land Use Planning Phase was a period of intense activity for the initial planning effort and included monthly meetings of a Planning Committee, which was appointed and facilitated by NMDC and composed of a broad cross-section of stakeholders in Aroostook County. The planning committee identified land use trends and needs in the region, prioritized potential topic areas, and ultimately focused on creation of a new subdistrict whose purpose is to encourage the development of rural businesses in appropriate locations in Aroostook County, which is markedly different from other locations in the Commission’s jurisdiction. The committee developed a performance-based approach to locating new rural businesses, and encourage the growth of existing businesses, in appropriate locations within certain townships, plantations, and towns in the county. In order to determine appropriate locations for these kinds of businesses, the committee carefully considered potential impacts to existing, surrounding uses. For more information about the proposal, please see materials below or contact the Commission.

The Adoption and Implementation Phase is currently underway. At the request of NMDC, the Commission has initiated a rulemaking process pursuant to 12 M.R.S   685-A,(7-A), and will hold a 30 day public comment period, within which anyone may submit written comments or request that the Commission hold a public hearing. The public comment period will begin on December 24, 2015, and extend until January 22, 2016. The Commission anticipates it will consider whether or not to adopt the rulemaking proposal at its regularly scheduled public meeting on March 9, 2016.

For more information about the proposal, to submit a public comment, or to request a public hearing, please contact Ben Godsoe of the Commission’s Staff at (207) 287-2619 or Benjamin.Godsoe@maine.gov. Copies of the proposal are available on the web or at the Commission’s office at 45 Radar Road, Ashland, Maine.

For more information about Community Guided Planning and Zoning in Aroostook County, please contact Jay Kamm at (207) 498-8736, or email: JKamm@nmdc.org.

Phases & Event

Events/Meetings

Additional Resources & Topics of Interest

Adoption & Implementation

  1. Commission Meeting on 12/9/2015: Agenda, Minutes
  2. Commission Meeting on 3/9/2016: Agenda
  1. Proposal: Draft Rural Business Development Subdistrict, Public Comments
  2. Proposal Adopted: Rural Business Development Subdistrict

Land Use Planning

  1. October 23, 2013: Agenda, Minutes
  2. December 11, 2013: Agenda, Minutes
  3. January 8, 2014: Agenda, Minutes
  4. March 19, 2014: Agenda, Minutes
  5. April 16, 2014: Agenda, Minutes
  6. May 21, 2014: Agenda, Minutes
  7. June 24, 2014: Agenda, Minutes
  8. July 22, 2014: Agenda
  9. September 17, 2014: Agenda, Minutes
  10. January 21, 2015: Agenda, Minutes, Projected Timeline
  11. February 18, 2015: Agenda, Minutes, Steering Committee Memo
  12. March 18, 2015: Agenda, Minutes, Steering Committee Memo
  13. April 8, 2015: Agenda, Minutes
  14. May 20, 2015: Agenda
  1. Topic: CGPZ Background Info
  2. Topic: Prime Farm Soils, LUPC Zoning, Parcels, Industry, Region (Maps)
  3. Topic: Draft Public Participation Plan
  4. Topic: Prospective Zoning
  5. No Topic or Additional Resources
  6. Topic: Chapter 10, Potential CGPZ Products Matrix
  7. Topic: Tourism Background Info
  8. No Topic or Additional Resources
  9. No Topic or Additional Resources
  10. Topic: Zoning and Adjacency, Selected Findings
  11. Topic: Maine Forest Products Council Letter
  12. Topic: Narrowing the Geography, Small Business Development Sub-District
  13. Topic: Small Business Development Subdistrict (3rd Draft), Map (PDF 5MB)
  14. Topic: Small Business Development Subdistrict (performance-based approach)

Pre-planning

  1. April 24, 2013: Agenda, Minutes
  2. May 15, 2013: Agenda, Minutes
  3. June 4, 2014: Agenda
  1. Draft Proposal for Aroostook CGPZ Process
  2. Pre-planning Phase Report

Background Information