GOULDSBORO – Twenty years have passed since the town crafted its comprehensive plan. In that time, the U.S. Naval base closed in Winter Harbor. The K-8 grade Peninsula School opened its doors. The nation’s last sardine cannery ceased operating and Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Woods campground and trail system and The Schoodic Institute were born.
With such major changes impacting Gouldsboro, Planning Board member Deb Bisson has volunteered to head a town committee to scrutinize the 60-page document over the next year and a half. Under Maine law, 14 of the plan’s chapters must address specific topics ranging from demographics and housing stock to forestry and agricultural land and marine-related resources. Seven maps also are required among other things in the plan viewed as a tool to chart the community’s future for generations to come.
Several planning board members pledged to assist Bisson who is seeking a broad cross-section of citizens with different perspectives to serve on the committee. The group’s meetings must be publicized a week ahead and the public permitted to attend and listen. Minutes must be taken of the deliberations. The aim is for a wide variety of townspeople to express their vision, values and concerns – the town’s assets and challenges – for the community in coming years.
The Hancock County Planning Commission’s new executive director Jarod Farn-Guillette says the comprehensive plan serves as a valuable resource for planning purposes, but is not a rigid, regulatory document spelling out “what color you can paint your mailbox.” The planner will provide the committee with technical assistance He says the goal is to find common ground among a spectrum of townspeople.
“The process is very important,” Farn-Guillette told Bisson and the rest of the planning board Tuesday night. He said the plan’s formation is “rooted in the traditions of New England democracy.”
Farn-Guillette noted state agencies use a town’s comprehensive plan as a “point of reference” when assessing a municipality’s plans to build a new school, upgrade infrastructure and other projects.
Also Tuesday night, Taft Point Road resident Lily Strater introduced herself to the planning board and offered to provide details and address any concerns about several seasonal tent sites that she rents on her property. Strater’s venture does not constitute a campground under Maine law that defines a campground as “a parcel of land where camping takes place and contains 5 or more sites in any combination.” She began leasing three sites last summer, sparking several complaints. She has since installed a Porta-Potty for her guests who stay at designated tent sites distanced apart. She told the board that she personally greets guests and ensures they remove trash and follow other protocol.
In other business Tuesday night, Winter Harbor resident Mike Gerrish was informed that his site plan application, to build a heavy equipment repair garage on the Walters Road off Route 1, would be taken up at an April 6 public hearing.