Community Guided Planning and Zoning
in Washington County Unorganized Territories
Launched in January 2015, WCCOG is assisting Washington County with a 2-year Community Guided Planning and Zoning (CGP&Z) process for the Unorganized Territories of Washington County.
The CGP&Z planning process will be an open one with plenty of opportunities for public input. Community Outreach meetings schedule here.
Inventory, meeting times/minutes, draft documents and opportunities for input will be posted on the CGP&Z Process page.
Why Plan Now?
There are many planning issues facing the Washington County Unorganized Territories. The Maine Land Use Planning Commission (the LUPC or Commission) serves as the planning and zoning authority for the unorganized and deorganized areas of the State, including townships and plantations. These areas either have no local government or have chosen not to administer land use controls at the local level. Prior to the creation of the LUPC in 2012, the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) had regulatory authority within the unorganized and deorganized areas of the State.
In 2012, the Maine Legislature made a number of changes to the statute that applies to the Commission’s activity (Guidance for Interpreting the 2010 Comprehensive Plan Use Plan, 10-5-2012). In addition to changing the Commission's purpose statement and scope, the 2012 changes direct the new Commission to initiate prospective zoning in coordination with local planning organizations and regional planning and development districts.
Since these changes took effect, Community Guided Planning and Zoning has started in Aroostook County and the Western Mountains of Maine. Community Guided Planning and Zoning is now underway in Washington County to achieve the following:
- Identify areas appropriate for growth based on existing patterns (therefore improve efficiency), natural resource constraints, and future needs
- Provide predictability for property owners and neighbors
- Reduce permitting process to one step (substantially reduce the need to rezone first) NOTE: achieving this will depend on how successfully those in the planning process anticipate the interests/needs of landowners within the jurisdiction, but obviously interests/needs change as land ownership changes and time passes.
The products to be created by the Community Guided Planning and Zoning Process will include:
Of highest priority: a prospective zoning proposal for the Unorganized Territories of Washington County. This will be supported or complemented by:
- a regional plan for the Unorganized Territories of Washington County;
- GIS maps for hydrology, infrastructure and services, natural and cultural resources and parcels; and
- a capital investment plan that identifies cost-effective public investments to promote the desired development, and defines a source of funds for those investments that is fair to the taxpayers of both the organized and unorganized areas of Washington County.
These products, once approved by the Land Use Planning Commission, will be in effect in the Washington County portion of the Commission's jurisdiction.
In the course of preparing these products, the effort will examine key issues according to the following three areas of analysis:
- Stormwater and regional hydrology, which with increasing frequency of extreme precipitation events have important effects on shellfish water quality, emergency management, fish passage, and hydroelectric management
- Natural resources development, including the “four Fs” --- fishing, forest, farming, and fun (outdoor recreation and tourism)
- Economic development relative to commercial/industrial location decisions.
The first three areas of analysis are closely related and often overlapping and will inform and support the final decisions about where to:
Designate growth and rural areas to define locations for residential and commercial growth, its location relative to towns and rural areas, and supporting services and infrastructure.
Results of the three areas of analysis will be combined with other information such as service availability, natural resource mapping, patterns of residential development and employment, and impacts on existing communities to determine rural and growth designation.
Recommendations emerging from this effort will be informed by, and draw from, existing plans for matters such as transportation and solid waste.
This is an ambitious agenda; in the course of the planning effort, the product may be narrowed to prospective zoning for limited areas in the Washington County U.T., and some areas and topics will be treated in more depth than others. Given the ambitious agenda, if the analysis of key issues demands excessive amounts of time and effort, priority will be given to the goal of designating prospective zoning districts.
Presentation by WCCOG to County Commissioners Jan 8, 2015 (NOTE - large file: 16MB PDF)
Title 12. Conservation Land Use Planning (statute governing land use regulation in the Unorganized Territories) as amended through August 30, 2012
Current (2010) Comprehensive Land Use Plan for Maine's Unorganized Territories:
Land Use Districts and Standards for Areas within the Jurisdiction of the Maine Land Use Planning Commission