Comprehensive Plan Committee

On April 6, 2019 Durham voters approved three warrant articles related to the 2018 Comprehensive Plan. 

Article 6 approved the new Comprehensive Plan conditioned upon approval by the State of Maine for consistency with Maine’s Growth Management Act (30-A MRSA §§ 4312-4350). It authorized any non-substantive changes required by the State to obtain a letter of consistency, such as updating background data or adding clarifying language that does not change policies or strategies approved by the voters. Finally, Article 6 required that any such non-substantive changes proposed by the State be approved by the Board of Selectmen.

Article 7 repealed the Growth Management and Establishment of Districts Ordinance adopted by Durham voters in 2004 to limit the number of building permits for new housing starts to 45 per calendar year. Under the Maine Growth Management Act, in order for a Town to limit its rate of growth, it must have a Comprehensive Plan that identifies designated growth areas and proposes investment in public utilities and services to support higher density development that could accommodate 75 percent of the development that will occur over the next 10-year period. Durham lacks any such existing village or highly developed area or the fiscal capacity to invest in any. The Town will instead be seeking an exemption from this requirement and pursuing policies and strategies that keep the whole Town rural.

Warrant Article 8 adopted Addendum 1 of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan that lays out a process for updating the Comprehensive Plan in the event that a local or regional building boom changes conditions that could jeopardize the Town’s ability to maintain its rural character and/or exceed the Town’s limited capacity to accommodate such growth. Under the Addendum, if the rate of growth of new housing building permits exceeds 45 lots in any given year or the number of lots approved by the Planning Board exceeds 100, the Board of Selectmen will call for a special Town Meeting to consider whether to enact a development moratorium.  The potential future temporary moratorium (6 months-1 year), if approved at a Town Meeting, would enable the Town to revisit the Comprehensive Plan. At that point, the Town could revise the Comprehensive Plan to designate growth areas with required infrastructure investment to position itself to adopt a defensible and workable rate of growth ordinance.

The next step in the update process is to submit the adopted 2018 Comprehensive Plan to the Maine Department of Conservation, Forestry, and Agriculture for formal consistency review.

Comprehensive Plan Committee 

Kevin Nadeau, Chairman

Jake Atherton, Vice Chairman

Page Atherton, Secretary

Juliet Caplinger

Brian Lanoie

John Simoneau

Seren Sinisi

Steve Sinisi