• 19 Jun 2017 9:31 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    The Maine Association of Planners (MAP) presented its annual awards on May 12, 2017 at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Freeport during the 2017 MAP Annual Meeting and Conference.

    The winners this year were: 

    Professional Planner of the Year Award: Theo Holtwijk 

    Mr. Holtwijk has served as the Director of Long Range Planning and Economic Development for the Town of Falmouth since 2007. From 1997-2007, he served as Brunswick’s Director of Planning and Development. Prior to that, he was the Planning Director of Sanford, Maine as well as the owner of his own Landscape Architecture and Planning firm.  His career has been long and distinguished in both planning practice and in teaching, which has included several years as an adjunct professor at the USM Muskie School for Public Policy. Theo has received many well deserved awards and recognitions. Theo is tireless in his support and promotion of the profession and the practice of planning in Maine. He has been well respected in his community, by other planners, and by employers. His projects are well received by the community, because he works to ensure public engagement and public support, completes his homework and research, and supports his work with facts, knowledge and skill. He is influential and effective in his community and in the professional planning field.

    Citizen Planner of the Year Award: Don Russell, Town of Topsham  

    Mr. Russell started his career as a citizen planner more than 45 years ago when he joined the Topsham Board of Appeals in 1969. Since then he has served on every conceivable committee and board in Topsham, sometimes multiple times or on several committees concurrently. Over these 45 years, Don has been a major force in helping to shape how Topsham should grow and change. The current Chairman of the Topsham Board of Selectman summarized it as follows: “Don has tirelessly worked to create a town (that) we have chosen as our home, now and in the future. He is always envisioning Topsham in the future through planning with a complete understanding of its past.”

    Project of the Year Award: Belfast Rail Trail 

    The award was presented to the City of Belfast, the Coastal Mountain Land Trust, and Friends of Belfast Rail Trail and was accepted by Wayne E. Marshall, Belfast City Planner. In fall 2016, the 2.3 mile Belfast Rail Trail officially opened, after nearly 8 years of community effort.  Located on the rail bed of the former Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad, the trail starts at Belfast’s working waterfront and runs along the Passagassawakeag River to the City Point Rail Station, home of the seasonal excursion railroad operated by the Brooks Historical Society. The Rail Trail is the third of three major pedestrian facilities which Belfast has invested in since 2005, all of which are interconnected.  The project involved extensive public participation processes and public planning energy, and involved partnerships with Coastal Mountain Land Trust, local property owners (for easements) and Brooks Historic Preservation (City Point Rail Station). This trail was also made possible through the City’s perseverance in negotiating the use of the rail bed through “rail banking” to preserve future rail use potential.

    Plan of the Year Award: “Legacy Lewiston,” Lewiston’s new Comprehensive Plan 

    The Plan was prepared by Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative, LLC. The plan was recognized for how well it engaged the public, including a special effort to make the process accessible for those residents who are normally disengaged in city government, such as college students, youth, and the New Mainer community; and for the inviting, colorful, and engaging manner information was articulated in the final plan. Legacy Lewiston changed the way people in Lewiston relate to the planning of their community. It not only provides an excellent roadmap for where the community is headed, but also engages residents in such a way that hopefully many of them will continue to play an active role in implementing the shared vision for the future of their city in the years to come. The award was accepted by David Hediger, Deputy Director / City Planner. The complete plan can be viewed at http://www.lewistonmaine.gov.

    The judging criteria are those used by the American Planning Association (APA) and the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA) awards programs. Winners will be encouraged to compete for the NNECAPA awards and the national planning (APA) awards. 

    MAP Lifetime Achievement Awards were also presented to Evan Richert, Chuck Lawton, Mark Eyerman, Frank O’Hara, Rodney Lynch (unable to attend), and Tom Martin (unable to attend).



    --Amanda Bunker and Sarah Curran, MAP Awards Committee Co-Chairs


  • 19 Jun 2017 9:16 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    After a decade of improvement, deaths and injuries on America’s roadways began to rise again in 2010, with total traffic deaths increasing by about six percent between 2010 and 2015. But during that same time, pedestrian deaths rose by an astonishing 25 percent—a rate quite disproportionate to the overall increase in fatalities. What factors are contributing to this trend, and what can be done to improve safety for all users of our transportation system, including pedestrians, whose incidence of death and serious injury continues to increase more rapidly than for other users?

    While some would assert that these trends are due to motorist behaviors, or to pedestrian behaviors, or to the design of transportation infrastructure, the data confirms that no single factor contributes substantially more than any other. The rebound in road travel volumes since the 2008 recession—(a stronger economy means more vehicle-miles-traveled)—is often cited as the primary factor in increased pedestrian fatalities. But favorable fuel prices, mild weather patterns, speed, aggressive driving, impairment, pedestrian visibility, inadequate driver and pedestrian education, and increased emphasis on walking for health are all seen as contributing factors. And, society’s addiction to the use of smart phones cannot be ignored as a major distracting influence for motorists and pedestrians alike.

    Unlike states with larger populations, Maine does not have high numbers of fatalities and serious injuries. Still, Maine crash statistics run parallel with the national trends—overall crashes have increased since 2010, but pedestrian deaths and injuries in Maine are increasing more rapidly than all other crash categories. The number of pedestrian crashes has hovered in the 250-to-300 range for the past 10 years; but pedestrian fatalities, which numbered 11 in 2013 and 9 in 2014, rose dramatically, to 19 in 2015 and 17 in 2016.

    Without a good understanding of the causes, states are challenged to develop effective strategies and mitigation measures. Given the relatively small number of incidents, it is not easy for small states like Maine to isolate the causes and contributing factors. To further complicate things, higher vehicular speeds in rural areas contribute substantially to the overall number of pedestrian fatalities while, at the same time, the competing needs of various roadway users in urban areas are associated with a higher overall number of pedestrian crashes. It has been a challenge to identify where first to focus our efforts, and also to determine what would be the most effective strategies. To this end, MaineDOT has adopted a multi-faceted approach to gather information, develop strategies and deliver a targeted program to reduce pedestrian crashes in these populations.

    What MaineDOT is Doing

    Pedestrian Crash Data - MaineDOT’s Safety Office collects relevant data on pedestrian crashes from accident reports submitted by Maine law enforcement agencies. This data includes pedestrian and driver age, urban/rural, speed limit, light and road conditions, and impairment data, as well as the actions and maneuvers of pedestrians and drivers.

    Bike-Ped Safety Working Group - Last year, MaineDOT convened a multi-agency Bike-Ped Safety Working Group to examine crash factors and develop strategies to reduce crashes and fatalities.  This group includes participants from organizational units within MaineDOT, and from the Bureau of Highway Safety, Maine State Police, disability advocates, local planning organizations, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, AAA, AARP and community representatives. Recognizing that pedestrians and motorists share the responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe, the group coined a slogan, “Heads Up!  Safety is a Two-Way Street.”

    Heads Up! Pedestrian Safety Project - Building on the work of the Working Group, MaineDOT and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine jointly developed this project to help communities foster local engagement and empowerment efforts that can improve pedestrian safety through local forums, safety reviews, analysis of local contributing factors, law enforcement outreach and development of short- and long-term pedestrian-safety mitigation plans. This project has an urban component in focus communities where clusters of crashes have occurred, and a statewide component through which other communities can obtain technical assistance and support for community engagement. "The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is thrilled to be partnering with the MaineDOT to improve pedestrian safety in communities all over Maine,” said Nancy Grant, executive director of the coalition. “Mainers of all ages deserve the ability to walk safely on our roads, whether for transportation, recreation or health.”

    For more information about MDOT's Heads Up! Pedestrian Safety Project, or to discuss programming and opportunities for your community, please contact Patrick Adams, Manager of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs at patrick.adams@maine.gov or 207-624-3311. Additional information can also be found at http://www.maine.gov/mdot/bikeped.

    Crosswalk and Sidewalk Training for Local Officials - MaineDOT’s Local Roads Center developed a half-day workshop for public works departments and local officials responsible for managing and supporting local transportation infrastructure. These sessions focus on the importance of crosswalks and sidewalks, where they are located and how they are maintained, as well as the legal requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    Pedestrian Safety Interventions Pilot Program for Vulnerable Populations - MaineDOT, other state agencies and non-profit organizations have struggled to identify effective ways to share resources and information with certain vulnerable populations. This year, MaineDOT will begin a pilot program to develop and evaluate multiple outreach systems for selected target audiences.   Phase 1 of the project will develop communication and outreach strategies to communicate with Maine’s homeless population, with those for whom English is a second language and with people who are elderly or disabled. Phase 2 of the project will explore the transferability to other communities of the strategies developed in Phase 1. Upon the successful transfer of strategies in Phase 2, MaineDOT will roll out statewide implementation of successful strategies.

    With tragic increases in the number and severity of vehicle-pedestrian crashes, MaineDOT has intensified efforts to develop strategies to reverse these trends. Going forward, the department will continue searching for ways to promote increased safety for all users of the transportation system, with a special emphasis on those who are walkers.

    --Joyce Taylor, Chief Engineer, Maine Department of Transportation

    This article was recently published in “Maine Trails” magazine and is reprinted with permission.


  • 19 Jun 2017 2:03 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    The Maine Association of Planners is proud to represent planners and others involved in planning across this great state. One of the best contributions we can make to support planning is to connect and support our professional planning community. 

    Maine is a big state and the planning community is a busy bunch. The Planner Profiles series gives us a chance to meet each other and learn about our skills, interests, and experiences online.

    Meet Anne Krieg, Executive Director of Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission:


    HOW MANY YEARS IN PLANNING PROFESSION? 

    28 years

    CURRENT JOB

    Executive Director of Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission

    TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND

    I started out in 1986, about 2 weeks after graduating from SUNY ESF at Syracuse University, as a drafts-person in a small LA firm in Belmont, Massachusetts. One of my projects was drafting all the details for the Orange Line stops on the MBTA. The partners in the firm had "fathered many firms" in Boston. Sometimes at lunchtime, they would call their former employees and tell them what they did wrong on their most recently constructed projects. One of the partners could often be seen painting on the railroad tracks of scenes of Belmont. That was a very entertaining time for sure. 

    One day, I came into work and they said next week I would start working at one of their "children's" firms because they were retiring. So off I went, and I got to do more site planning and permitting work, then, in a similar style, when the recession hit Boston, I reported to a campus planning firm, Dober Lidsky Craig, until they folded for a few years in 1991. I took the year off to have my first child and then re grouped to a new direction, and started working in Danvers, Massachusetts for almost 7 years and then the town of Reading for 3 years. I met many planner friends there with whom I remain close. 

    We moved to Bar Harbor in 2002. I remember writing to MAP Board members at the time, when I was considering taking the Bar Harbor job, to get their advice and Jim Upham said, give it a go and Maureen O'Meara said, no stay where you are! Ha, I still laugh about that! I worked in Bar Harbor for 9 years, working with Beth Della Valle, Hugh Coxe, Judy Colby-George, and Jane LaFluer on our Plan of the Year in 2007, Comprehensive Plan. It was an exhaustive process but it was one of the highlights of my time there. I learned a lot from the team of consultants and I felt good about our product. I also helped connect the town with the cruise industry, commenced the design development process for the Route 3 improvements (now under construction, apologies if you have been stuck in that traffic) and weathered many political storms which both strengthened my resolve and ultimately really burned me out, causing me to question everything. 

    I was, however, lucky to bounce back to the profession with the town of Bridgton. I worked there for the last 5 years, and, though I know my best work is ahead of me, some of the projects I am most proud of to date are from Bridgton. I was a part of the ground-level re-birth of Bridgton by working at the community level to revitalize the downtown, work on form-based codes, and connect the under-served populations with their town. 

    When I saw the posting for the Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission, I was struck by the desire to do something I had not done before, working in regional planning, and in a private non-profit. I love working with different municipalities and on a variety of projects, so that part of the position is great!

    WHAT LED YOU INTO PLANNING? 

    When I was still a math/science major, I watched my now 91-year-old Mom fight town hall on the sale of the neighborhood school. When the subdivision I grew up in outside of Syracuse was originally developed in the late 50's, the developer wisely set aside a significant piece of land for the school conveniently located, as he knew it would make the lots sell more quickly if a school was in walking distance (sound familiar?) and the town built a school there and my neighborhood filled in with lots of families. The town was going to sell it because the student population had dropped. She argued to lease it for 10 years because the neighborhood will be turning over as they retire, move, or as she said die off, and new families would move in. Though she was adamant and stubborn in keeping with the process, she lost her battle and they did sell. Watching her do that made me re think my launch into science, as I realized I only was doing it because she was a scientist and so was my brother so I was just following the line. 

    I switched into Environmental Studies with a focus on planning, law, and economics. (Full disclosure, Physical Chemistry also had something to do with it...) 

    [As follow-up to this story, in 15 years I think it was, they were forced to float a bond to, guess what, build a massive addition to another school, so her prediction was right - my old neighborhood has transitioned to younger families and student population went up and, they had to be bused when they used to walk, for shame.]

    WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT PLANNING IN MAINE? 

    Coming from Massachusetts, I was surprised and pleased there was a State Planning Office. I am sad it is no longer part of the Governor's Office as it made the state progressive in seeing planning as an important component in state government. I think having a comprehensive plan statute is unique. Also unique is the vastness of Maine. Again, comparing it to Massachusetts, we as planners are all spread out in Maine so that was a huge culture shock. In Massachusetts, you trip over a planner or design professional on every street! Their planning association meets monthly for lunch and it's packed so you end up having close friendships with planners. That's why I have always felt MAP is very important to give planners a connection to each other as it was pretty isolating when I first came up here and being a part of MAP has helped.

    WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF YOUR WORK? 

    I like the exhilaration of passing a plan or an ordinance at town meeting, as it's a great ratification that the project was done right.

    WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF YOUR WORK? 

    I am easily distracted, so I have to work hard on keeping up with what is to others, routine tasks of paperwork, which is a struggle for me.

    TELL US ABOUT YOUR DREAM PROJECT – WHAT KIND OF PLANNING WORK WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE MORE INVOLVED WITH? 

    The great thing about this new position is every project is a dream project. I am not hampered by day to day life of town hall life and I only work on projects (though I miss working with people in the town hall, so that is truly a mixed bag.)

    WHAT IS YOUR NICHE OR MAIN EXPERTISE? 

    Getting to the baseline of what a community wants - I can facilitate a couple of meetings and understand where the town is heading, and where they want to be. I think it comes from years of working in this field and it helps me with preparing comp plans and the like.


  • 19 Jun 2017 1:38 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    At the MAP Annual Meeting on May 12, 2017, the NNECAPA Maine State Director (me), gave a brief overview of the NNECAPA/State Association reorganization discussion. The highlights of this overview are: On April 7 and 8, 2017 representatives of NNECAPA, Maine Association of Planners (MAP), New Hampshire Planners Association (NHPA), and Vermont Planners Association (VPA) gathered for two days at AMC’s Highland Center in Crawford Notch, NH to discuss possibilities for organizational collaboration or potential merging/restructuring.  This unprecedented summit was spurred by a NNECAPA Executive Committee retreat in early 2016 and the Chapter’s resulting Strategic Plan.  See the Yankee Planner Winter 2017 edition for an introduction to this initiative and a description of some different options being considered. 

    The goals of the meeting were to (1) discuss problems and benefits of the status quo, and (2) identify pros and cons of different organizational structures.  The group also discussed the histories of the different organizations in an effort to understand how they evolved to their current status.  Nationally, the Northern New England region is very unusual with its multi-state APA Chapter and independent state planning organizations.

    Organizational Histories

    Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA): The American Institute of Planners (AIP) was the predecessor to APA.  In 1948, the New England Chapter of AIP was created (all six states of New England were included in the Chapter).  In the 1970s, Connecticut separated and created its own chapter of AIP. In 1978, AIP merged with American Society of Planning Officials (ASPO)  to create APA.  In 1980 the Northern New England states (Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine) created their own chapter of APA—what is now NNECAPA.  In 1994, RI and MA separated into their own chapters of APA.

    Maine Association of Planners (MAP) – Created in 1968.  MAP is starting to build recognition at the state level. Has been a board of individuals from various backgrounds, including public and private as well as different geographic locations. The board does more work for planning and not just for planners. 

    New Hampshire Planning Association (NHPA) – Created in 1970.  In the mid-1990s, an initiative to establish NHPA as a section of NNECAPA was put to member vote; the effort failed narrowly. 

    Vermont Planners Association (VPA) – Created in 1987.  VPA was established to be multi-disciplinary, which is included in its mission statement. VPA has representatives on other boards at the state level, such as the Downtown Board.

    Goals for Process of Possible Restructuring

    • Recognize the importance of maintaining each state association’s individual identity and some degree of autonomy in whichever restructuring option might be chosen
    • Address states’ problems with capacity (limited human resources)
    • Improve the financial sustainability of state associations
    • Address NNECAPA problems with flow of financial resources to states
    • Address redundancy between NNECAPA & state associations (e.g., finances, membership renewals, website maintenance, event organization)
    • Work to enable states to better focus on specific planning needs and “threats” such as political changes and issues (state or federal)
    • Simplify dues and membership for state associations and NNECAPA – resolve issue of NNECAPA members subsidizing state association members in terms of membership services/benefits
    • Improve services
    • Clarify advocacy efforts, especially federal

     Options Reviewed

    1. Maintain the current structure between State Associations (MAP, VPA, NHPA) and APA Chapter (NNECAPA) – status quo
    2. NNECAPA and state associations enter into an agreement to share resources
    3. State associations become Sections of NNECAPA
    4. State associations become individual Chapters of APA, NNECAPA dissolves

    Pros and Cons of Different Options

    1. Status quo

    Pro:

    • Familiar structure for many members
    • Ease of continuity

    Con:

    • Financially unsustainable
    • Increased burden on volunteers
    • Member confusion regarding roles of different organizations
    • NNECAPA members subsidize planners who belong to state associations but not to the Chapter  (conference fees, etc.)
    2. MOU between APA Chapter (NNECAPA) and State Associations (MAP, VPA, NHPA)

    Pro:

    • Increased level of coordination
    • Easier to get member  consent across all 4 organizations
    • NNECAPA Conference planning could be done at NNECAPA Chapter level rather than Association level as it is now 

    Con:

    • Underlying financial sustainability issues not addressed
    3. State associations (MAP, VPA, NHPA) become Sections of APA Chapter (NNECAPA)

    Pro:

    • Streamlined administration and finances
    • Better flow of financial resources to states
    • Single web platform available
    • Single dues payment for members (APA membership not required)
    • Conference planning at NNECAPA level
    • Coordinated bylaws
    • Potential increase membership
    • Better NNECAPA connection to citizen planners 
    • Benefit to the region and to each state for national advocacy
    • Regional approach increased
    • Strengthen connection across states
    • Easiest option to explain to membership

    Con:

    • Association with APA may not be seen as advantageous
    • Dues structure may be more limited
    • Resistance to change among some members
    • Potential loss of state association organizational identify
    4. State associations (MAP, VPA, NHPA) become individual Chapters of APA, NNECAPA dissolves

    Pro:

    • High degree of state autonomy
    • Clear identity
    • More direct connection to APA & its resources

    Con:

    • Harder to convince members currently belonging only to state associations due to higher dues and affiliation with APA
    • Not sustainable for MAP and VPA – lack of capacity to become an APA chapter 

    State Associations’ Role and Next Steps

    It became fairly clear during the retreat that the “status quo” option (1) is not sustainable for NNECAPA.  Similarly, the state associations expressed that they are also experiencing limited and dwindling resources. The group did feel this assessment leads to a preferred direction to go in (in terms of the options), but the next step involves taking the assessment to the state associations and engaging in dialogue to come to mutual agreement on the best course of action. 

    The retreat group decided to establish a Task Force to carry out the next steps – this group will primarily be the NNECAPA and state association presidents and treasurers. As additional people are needed to work on things from the NNECAPA or state association boards, they will be brought in.

    The Task Force’s job is:

    • Start thinking through the issues and financial implications for the identified options
    • Get more answers to known questions (there are many)
    • Start going to each state association to present the info
    • Gather input on issues and chose an option that works for all

    Timeline

    • Spring/Summer 2017 - Get questions from membership via email and meetings (both underway)
    • Summer 2017 - Discuss options and questions with Presidents and Treasurers
    • Summer/Fall 2017 - Get answers and travel state-to-state to discuss with Boards and members
    • Winter 2017/2018 – Memberships of organizations vote on an option

    Representatives who participated in the retreat:

    NNECAPA – Sarah Marchant, President; Sandrine Thibault, Vice-President; Jim Donovan, Treasurer; Yuseung Kim, PDO; Anna Breinich, Assistant PDO; Ben Frost, PIO; Carl Eppich, Past President; Brandy Saxton, Vermont State Director; Carol Eyerman, Maine State Director

    MAP – Carol Eyerman, President; Amanda Bunker, At-large; Carl Eppich, At-large

    NHPA – Ben Frost, Treasurer; Sarah Marchant, NNECAPA Legislative Liaison; Donna Benton, PIO; Becky Hebert, Secretary

    VPA – Mark Kane, President; Brandy Saxton, Vermont State Director to NNECAPA

    Facilitator - Bob Mitchell, FAICP

    -- Carol Eyerman, AICP, Maine State Director for NNECAPA

  • 19 Jun 2017 1:25 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~Aristotle

    This Annual Meeting was outstanding and we owe a debt of gratitude to the Board members who put it together. The Annual Meeting is the time each year when we vote in new Board members and say thank you and so long to those who are leaving us to work on other things. So a big thank you to the Board members of 2016! You worked tirelessly to make this the organization for and about planning in Maine. The Board members we say best wishes to are Misty Parker, Amanda Lessard, and Phil Carey.

    Thank you to the incoming Board members Jim Fisher, Hugh Coxe, and Samantha Horn Olsen. I’m looking forward to getting to know you all better. 

    A big thank you to the continuing Board members Lynne Seeley, Sarah Curran, Ethan Croce, Amanda Bunker, Anne Krieg, Jamie Francomano, Mark Lapping, Tom Martin, Carl Eppich, and Jamel Torres. We could not do all we do without you and the institutional knowledge you bring.

    The Board is continuing to dream big! We will meet in July to discuss the goals that were laid down last year. To review the goals and themes from 2016, please read the President’s Corner in the Fall, 2016 Newsletter. This year we will review what we did last year that worked well and reach for goals that we didn’t have a chance to get to.

    2017 Goals

    We will focus on the four strategic themes that arose out of the 2016 retreat which are professional development and conference planning, membership levels and finances/budget, legislation and policy development, and awards program. Each theme has a “Champion” from the Board. The Champions were chosen based on their current chair role and association with the theme. Our main goals this year will be:

    • 50th Anniversary preparation
    • 2018 Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA) Conference preparation – Maine will host this time around.
    • Membership communication
    • Awards program improvement
    • Legislation and policy development with Maine Municipal Association (MMA)
    • Bylaw review and update

    As always, if you want us to decide everything, then by all means sit on the sidelines. If not, join one of the committees, listed here, or volunteer for the short projects (coming soon to the listserv), we would love to hear from you. 

    Here is to another good year and thank you for the support!

    --Carol Eyerman, AICP, MAP President

  • 20 Feb 2017 9:34 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    With every edition of Front Page, MAP highlights the "comings and goings" of planners through Bytes 'N Pieces.

    • Jessa Berna  is joining the Greater Portland Council of Governments as Associate Planner. She was previously a planner in Portsmouth, NH and New Gloucester, ME.
    • Eric Galant resigned as the long serving Executive Director of the Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission to pursue a new professional direction as a private consultant. During his tenure he put the agency on a sound financial footing and maintained its independence from other encroaching organizations and groups.
    • Doug Greene is now the City of Auburn's urban development and grant administrator.
    • Ian Houseal, who most recently managed the city of Portland’s rental inspection and registration program, has been named director of Community Development. READ MORE.
    • Catherine Ingraham has been selected as the coordinator for Mahoosuc Heart & Soul.
    • The Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission (MCRPC), located in Rockland, Maine, is very pleased to announce the hiring of Anne Krieg, AICP, as its Executive Director. Anne was the Director of Planning, Economic and Community Development in Bridgton, Maine, and before that was the Planning and Development Director for the Town of Bar Harbor, Maine. She is eagerly looking forward to assisting Mid-Coast communities with their land use and transportation planning needs.
    • Peter Morelli announced his last day at AARP with the end of his contract to work on the age-friendly program. Stating that he is very pleased that they now have 24 towns in the network and that interest in all things age-friendly is very high.
    • The New England Chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism awarded the Town of Scarborough Office of Planning & Code Enforcement, and the Principle Group (planning consultant) a 2016 Urbanism Award. The team was recognized for its efforts to develop a form-based code that would help resolve difficulties that homeowners at Higgins Beach often encountered when trying to make improvements to their dwellings under the former conventional zoning that was in place for decades.

  • 20 Feb 2017 9:03 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    The recreational marijuana use law adopted by the voters in November provides for the state licensing of five types of “establishments” dealing with the commercial production and distribution/sales of marijuana. It seems that most of the discussion and community concern involves two types of establishments – retail marijuana establishments where one can purchase various cannabis products to take home and marijuana social clubs where cannabis can be used/consumed on the premises. Everyone interested in this topic should read the law in its entirety to understand the statutory limits placed on these two types of establishments.

    We recently went to Colorado on vacation. Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012 and implementation of the retail/commercial establishment rules went into effect in 2014. As most planners know, a site visit is very important in understanding the planning implications of a situation or development proposal. So while we were in Denver, we conducted a professional site visit to a retail cannabis store. The idea for this visit was triggered by receiving a “discount card” for purchases at the neighborhood cannabis store when we checked into our hotel in downtown. Our visit was strictly professional – we did not buy anything. What follows is a description of our visit to the retail store. This is just one store and it may or may not be typical of Colorado retail cannabis stores but the store we visited is part of a chain with stores across the state. 

    Here are a few observations based on our limited experience: 

    1. Retail cannabis stores openly advertise in all sorts of media including high-end tourist publications. Typically these are full color ads and many are very attractive full page ads. For example the ad for the local store in Aspen in a classy tourist magazine could be mistaken for a Gucci ad or an ad for an art gallery or jewelry store. 

    2. When we arrived at the Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver we were given a discount card for cannabis purchases at the neighborhood retail establishment--Native Roots –as part of the checked-in. Native Roots is the largest chain of retail marijuana shops in Colorado with 17 locations throughout the state primarily in the major cities (Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Glenwood Springs), tourist centers, and the Denver suburbs. The racks with tourist information in the hotel lobby had information about Native Roots and other retail stores and dispensaries in Denver. Like Maine, Colorado has both medical and recreational marijuana stores. 

    3. We visited the Native Roots shop near the hotel. The store is located in a downtown office building on a lower level with an attractive entrance (see pictures). Its neighbors are a chain coffee shop, salon, and sandwich shop. To enter the store you go down the stairs to a waiting room. To get into the retail floor you have to provide a picture ID to the person at the entry booth. Once they confirm your age, you can enter the retail floor through a locked door. 


    4. The retail floor is set up like a bank. When you come in there is a que where you wait until one of the clerks calls you up to the sales counter. You cannot wander around the store. The sales counter is set up much like a bank with a number of sales positions each with an identical display of products. All products are in the display cases or on shelves behind the counter. No products are displayed in the open or on shelves that customers have access to. At this store there were five sales positions. Each position has a display of the available products including various types of cannabis products including flowers, tinctures, gels, various edibles, etc. (see the pictures). 

    5. When it is your turn, a sales clerk calls you to one of the sales positions. The first thing they do is ask again to see your ID. After they confirm your age, you can buy products. We talked with the clerk about the various products especially the various edibles. Many of the edibles do look like “candy” or other sweets. There are cookies and mini-brownies as well as chocolate bars, gummies, gum, etc. The potential for accidental use does probably exist. Many of the edibles appear to be sold/packaged in sizes that are for multiple uses. 




    6. While we were talking with the sales clerk there was a customer at the next sales position and the clerk spent time explaining to him the pros and cons of the various products depending on the reaction you are seeking and suggesting how much to use of each product. 

    7. The experience was much like going to the bank except with a much higher level of security (and no drive-through). The shop was very nice with attractive displays, indirect lighting, and lots of collateral logo merchandise such as shirts, hats, bags, etc. 

    8. This is just one example of a retail marijuana sales establishment in Colorado. While walking around Denver, we saw another shop that we did not go into, but it was in a freestanding building (maybe a former convenience store) that was brightly painted. And the pictures of the Aspen store in the magazines looks like a high end jewelry store. 

    9. We took the new light-rail from the Denver airport to downtown. The line goes by a large industrial/warehouse district on the fringe of downtown. There is a couple of marijuana grow and/or processing facilities that you can see from the train. They appear to be in older warehouse type buildings within this area much like the medical grow facilities in Maine. 

    Based on this single experience, many of the “horror scenarios” being suggested about retail marijuana establishments in Maine appear to be unfounded. The store we visited did not have anyone hanging around outside – customers came and went. The store operation was very professional and as with the requirements of the Maine law, sales were limited to cannabis related products. The staff was well dressed, polite, and seemed to be very knowledgeable about their products. Security was tight. 

    An interesting tidbit is that Colorado (like the new Maine law) allows municipalities to adopt more stringent regulations for retail establishments than the state requirements. The state allows retail cannabis stores to stay open until midnight but Denver apparently requires them to close at 7:00 PM. Apparently this has resulted in stores locating across the city-line in other communities that allow stores to stay open later. This might be an argument for thinking about cooperative local regulations among groups of communities within the same market area to avoid these sorts of issues.

    --  Carol Eyerman, AICP, Assistant Planner, Town of Topsham  and Mark Eyerman, Principal, PlanME, LLC

  • 20 Feb 2017 8:46 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    The advent of the recreational marijuana industry poses many concerns and questions for municipalities.  This is amplified by the fact that the Maine Marijuana Legalization provides towns with a large degree of control over licensure and regulation of marijuana businesses.  Towns may decide to prohibit marijuana commercial activities altogether, or to permit some activity but to limit the number of marijuana businesses that operate in a town.  Towns also have the power to pass zoning ordinances controlling where marijuana retail activities can take place, and to impose their own regulatory requirements on marijuana businesses. 

    Many towns have decided that a first step in dealing with the emergence of the marijuana industry is to implement a moratorium on commercial marijuana sales.  

    It’s important to understand that commercial cultivation and sales of marijuana cannot take place in Maine until licenses are issued by the state to allow such activities.  Those licenses cannot be issued until the state completes its rulemaking process.  Currently that is scheduled to take nine months, but the legislature is considering legislation to extend that process out until February 1, 2018.  It does become legal for Maine residents to possess, use and grow marijuana for personal use beginning on January 30, 2017, but a fully developed commercial system is several months away.

    So at this stage of the game, since no commercial recreational marijuana cultivation and sales can lawfully take place, one may wonder whether moratoria are really necessary. 

    One reason cited by towns in implementing moratoria is a concern that local residents don’t understand the complex regulatory process that needs to unfold before implementation of a commercial marijuana industry in Maine, and may wrongly believe that they are entitled to begin opening marijuana stores right now.  A moratorium gives a code enforcement officer a basis rooted in local ordinance to shut that kind of operation down.  It’s a local policy and political decision for town policy makers to determine whether a moratorium makes sense in their town. 

    Remember, however, that moratoria are ordinances: they must be enacted by the municipal legislative body (either town meeting or town or city council).   A moratorium ordinance must also meet the other requirements of Maine law, including a limited duration of 180 days, subject to extensions for additional 180-day periods provided (1) the problem necessitating the moratorium still exists, and (2) reasonable progress is being made to alleviate the problem.  So while a town may decide that implementing a moratorium on commercial marijuana activity makes sense, care must be taken to make sure that this is done in compliance with applicable legal procedures, and that consideration of the deeper questions of how the town will regulate marijuana continues while the moratorium is in place.   

    -- Ted Kelleher heads Drummond Woodsum’s Regulated Substance Practice, where he helps clients, including municipalities across Maine, navigate the complex rules governing industries that make highly regulated consumer products such as breweries, distilleries and marijuana related businesses. 

  • 20 Feb 2017 8:36 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    The built environment in our communities has significant effects on public health.  Car dependent communities have proven to contribute to the obesity epidemic. A built environment that includes sidewalks, safe crossings, and facilities for on road bicycling can make all the difference with respect to whether people use healthy active transportation (walking and bicycling) in their daily lives.  And research has established that creating opportunities for regularly incorporating physical activity into a person’s daily routine has more lasting benefit than “gym time” or exercise periods.  A built environment for active transportation is key for active, safe living and a ‘healthy’ public health landscape.

    Unfortunately, changing the built environment –eliminating barriers for walking and biking, building facilities that encourage it, etc. – can be politically challenging due to limited funding and doubt that the improvements will make a difference in increasing walking and biking. People have a difficult time making sense of plans on paper, and often skip public meetings where they can learn about planned projects.  Community leaders can be reluctant to spend money on projects they can’t really visualize or that they are skeptical of working in reality.

    Over the last year and a half, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s (BCM’s) “Imagine People Here” (IPH) campaign has had considerable success in helping communities envision and plan changes to their built environment by using short-term demonstration projects.  The campaign creates temporary versions of facilities like bike lanes, curb extensions, and wayfinding signage, and then collects community responses to such facilities.  As a version of sanctioned “tactical urbanism”, the IPH campaign has provided local planners with a powerful tool to imagine changes to their roadways that support more active transportation options.  So far, 3 of the 6 communities in which BCM has staged projects are considering permanent installations, and 1 has already budgeted for and installed bike lanes that were originally created as a demonstration project. 

    As NNECAPA members may recall, in late 2016 NNECAPA submitted and APA awarded a $60,000 grant from the national “Plan4Health” program, an initiative of the US Centers for Disease Control, the American Public Health Association and the APA to extend the IPH program and develop replicable tools for use across Northern New England communities.   In 2017, BCM staff will be working with a team that includes former NNECAPA President and PACTS senior planner Carl Eppich and the GPCOG’s public health lead Zoe Miller to create several demonstration projects in Maine (and perhaps in New Hampshire and Vermont), a “do it yourself” tactical project toolkit, and reports to be shared nationwide.  The goal of the toolkit is to help stakeholders create demonstration projects that show how easy and cost effective it can be to make the built environment more supportive of a healthy lifestyle.  Stay tuned for additional updates on this innovative project!  

    --Jim Tasse, Assistant Director, Bicycle Coalition of Maine & Carl Eppich, former NNECAPA President and PACTS Senior Planner. Contact Carl for more info: 207-774-9891.



  • 20 Feb 2017 8:14 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    The Maine Association of Planners is proud to represent planners and others involved in planning across this great state. One of the best contributions we can make to support planning is to connect and support our professional planning community. 

    Maine is a big state and the planning community is a busy bunch. The Planner Profiles series gives us a chance to meet each other and learn about our skills, interests, and experiences online.

    Meet Jamel Torres, Transportation and Land Use Planner, Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission:


    HOW MANY YEARS IN PLANNING PROFESSION? 

    Four, including 1.5 years in the Public Health field.

    CURRENT JOB

    Transportation & Land Use Planner, Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission

    TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND

    I grew up in Denmark, ME, which is a small town in western Maine with a year-round population just under 1,200 people. I attended the University of Vermont (UVM) where I earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Studies and minored in Geospatial Technologies. In 2012 I graduated from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine with a Master’s degree in Community Planning & Development. I currently live in Freeport with my fiancé.

    WHAT LED YOU INTO PLANNING? 

    After graduating from UVM, I began searching for a practical way to use my background in environmental studies and geospatial technologies. I have always been interested in how communities are designed and planned so I decided to pursue a graduate degree in planning. I soon realized I could incorporate my interest in the environment and mapping into a profession in the field of community planning and development.

    WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT PLANNING IN MAINE? 

    That is a tough question since I have only been a professional planner here in Maine, however, having worked in several different regions in the state I think the diversity of communities across Maine makes planning here unique. For example, in York County (Maine’s second most popular County) populations range from around 1,500 people in the Town of Newfield to around 21,000 people in the City of Biddeford. The wide range of planning issues facing rural communities compared to the more urban communities is fascinating. Additionally, the diversity of issues facing inland communities compared to coastal communities is unique to coastal states like Maine. There is never a dull moment!

    WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF YOUR WORK? 

    I find it truly rewarding to engage the public on planning and development issues that will impact the future of their communities. Public participation is very important in planning and it is intriguing to witness community members engaging in the planning and decision making process.

    WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF YOUR WORK? 

    One of the most challenging aspects of being a planner in Maine is facing the classic attitude of “we want things to stay exactly the way they are; there is no need for any change here.” This can be very challenging because most planners think creatively and work to develop innovative solutions to long-term problems. Changing the status quo can be critical to improving communities within the scope of the planning profession so when I encounter strong resistance to change, it can make my work very challenging.

    TELL US ABOUT YOUR DREAM PROJECT – WHAT KIND OF PLANNING WORK WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE MORE INVOLVED WITH? 

    I think it would be really interesting to work on expanding passenger rail service to urban areas such as Lewiston-Auburn, Augusta-Waterville, and Bangor-Brewer. I think there is an interest in more passenger rail service in Maine and it would be great to be a part of that effort. Additionally, I would like to be involved in the ongoing planning for commuter passenger rail service between Brunswick & Portland and Saco-Biddeford & Portland. As the Portland commuter traffic continues to increase it will be important to provide a more efficient option for commuting.

    WHAT IS YOUR NICHE OR MAIN EXPERTISE? 

    I would say customer service is one of my main strengths. I find that having a friendly personality goes a long way in planning, especially when tough decisions are being made. In terms of planning, I feel most experienced in GIS mapping, transportation planning, and community engagement.


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