Population: 1,242,000
Governor Angus King

Key Laws/Administrative Actions/

Click here for the amount of protected land in Maine, and click here to review Maine's federal transportation spending.
Source:  Pew Center on the States & Changing Direction:  Federal Transportation Spending in the 1990s. Surface Transportation Policy Project

Click here to read Governor Angus King's 2001 State of the State address.

The largest conservation easement in U.S. history was finalized in Maine with $28 million going towards development rights on more than 760,000 acres in western and northern Maine.

Key Laws:
For an overview of Maine's planning and zoning statutes, see a summary provided by the American Planning Association.

Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Act of 1998, Title 30 M.R.S.A. Sec. 4960
Passed in 1988, initially this law was a funded mandate directing Maine municipalities to develop comprehensive plans for the future, with statewide goals as a guide. Some of the goals include:
  Goal 1, identify and designate growth areas
  Goal 2, develop a plan for maintaining and expanding public facilities
  Goal 5, protect and maintain and improve water resources
  Goal 6, ensure the protection of Maine's natural resources
  Goal 9, preserve the State's historical and archeological resources 

Enforcement of the planning requirement, however, has been on hold due to lack of state funds to assist planning.  Today the Act is a cooperative program between municipalities, regional councils, and the state.  Communities who choose to plan must follow statewide objectives.  The State Planning Office is directed to coordinate the activities and plans of various state agencies, such as the Dept. of Economic and Community Development. Contact: State Planning Office, 184 State Street, Station 38, Augusta, ME.  04333-0038; Telephone (207) 287-2851

Maine's Sensible Transportation Act (23 M.R.S.A.   Section 73)
The 1991 Act mirrors several concepts in the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act: it  emphasizes "intermodalism," a movement away from pro-highway biases, and citizen participation in transportation planning.  The Act resulted from a citizens' referendum in which Maine voters rejected the state's proposal to widen a turnpike. In 1997, a second referendum allowed the widening of the turnpike but it did not change the Act.
Contact: Maine Dept. Of Transportation, Bureau of Planning; Telephone (207) 287-3131

LD 2252, Public Law Chapter 787
Until recently, the state education department did not help communities pay for school renovations.  Only new school construction could receive state funds.  This bias in favor of new over existing schools had the effect of encouraging "school sprawl."  This new legislation takes steps to change the way school construction and renovation needs are identified, assessed and financed. Among other actions, the legislation creates a new Revolving Renovation Fund to improve the condition of existing school buildings, many of which are located in service center (hub) communities. 

Administrative Actions:
Maine's Brownfields Initiative
Directed by the State Planning Office, the initiative involves: a municipal revolving loan created to assist cities and towns in conducting environmental assessments of brownfields sites; a database of brownfield sites, a  two-volume guidebook, which includes an overview of brownfield;  a Maine Brownfields Conference; a web page; and work on clarifying liability issues.  Contact:  Nicholas Hodgkins, the manager of Maine's voluntary clean-up program for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), serves as Maine's overall Brownfields Coordinator; Maine DEP, 17 State House Station; Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management, VRAP Program; Augusta, ME 04333-0017; Phone: (207) 287- 4854 

Land for Maine's Future Program
This program provides matching grants to municipalities for local open space acquisition. Contact: State Planning Office;

The Waste Management and Recycling Program
The program has a two-fold mission: to assist municipalities in their efforts to improve recycling and composting performance, and, to ensure sufficient, environmentally secure, cost-effective disposal capacity for Maine's municipal solid waste.  Contact: State Planning Office;

New Neighbors Program
The Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA) has piloted this program in neighborhoods in Maine's three largest cities: Portland, Lewiston and Bangor. This program is aimed at improving neighborhoods by helping home buyers purchase 1 - 4 unit buildings in designated areas.  Buyers are required to participate in an education program to help them with future management responsibilities. Contact: Maine State Housing Authority, 353 Water Street, Augusta, Maine 04330-4633;  Telephone Number (207) 626-4600 or 1-800-452-4668.

Job Creation
Economic Development Districts
Maine Department of Economic and Community Development directs this program, which seeks to develop high quality and permanent employment while supporting community values. Contact: Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (207) 287-2851. 

See Maine's "Cost of Sprawl Report", an excellent report from Maine's State Planning Office.  The report contains numerous statistics related to sprawl, such as:

  • Over the last 30 years, the fastest growing towns in Maine have been new suburbs 10 to 15 miles distant from metropolitan areas.   These high growth communities have accounted for virtually all of the state's population growth.
  • Between 1970 and 1995 the number of elementary and secondary public school students in Maine actually declined by 27,000.  Yet from 1975 to 1995 Maine state government alone committed $727 million to new school construction and additions. School busing costs rose by $45 million from 1970 to 1995. 
For a copy of the report, contact Maine's State Planning Office, 184 State Street, Station 38, Augusta, ME; 04333;  Telephone: (207) 287-6077  The report is also available online at

Maine Governor Angus King (I) lent his support for a $184 million redevelopment plan for Bangor's industrial waterfront and downtown.  The plan, utilizing $144 million and $40 million in private and public funds respectively, will incorporate housing, business, and recreation along 36-acres on a 1-mile stretch of the Penobscot River.  The Governor was in town attending a meeting of the Smart Growth Forum, an ad hoc group consisting of planners, town and state officials and businesses that looks at ways to balance ecology and development in the state. 

Spoiled by Sprawl, a series of articles that ran July 6-8, 1997, in the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram. Topics include: The pattern of growth in Southern Maine has its costs; growth limits clash with landowners; and State policies fostering suburban sprawl.

"A Helping Hand for Housing," Portland Press Herald.  February 5, 2001.

"Lawmakers' views mixed over growth caps," Portland Press Herald. April 3, 2001.

"Land trusts working to save state's farmland," Portland Press Herald. May 2, 2001.

Natural Resources Council of Maine
The Natural Resources Council of Maine is a non-profit, independent, citizen's organization dedicated  protecting Maine's environment through a program advocacy, education, and legal defense. Address: NRCM, 271 State Street, Augusta, Maine 04330;  Telephone: (207) 622-3101; Fax: (207) 622-4343 

Maine Historic Preservation Commission
55 Capitol Street, Station 65
Augusta, ME  04333
Telephone: (207) 287-2132 

Maine Citizens for Historic Preservation
P.O. Box 1198
Portland, ME 04104
Telephone: (207) 775-3652 

Conservation Law Foundation  (CLF)
The Conservation Law Foundation is the largest regional environmental advocacy organization in the United States.  Based in New England, the organization's attorneys, scientists, economists, and policy experts work on the most significant threats to the natural environment of the region, and to the health of its residents.  CLF has published an excellent guide for citizens, Take Back Your Streets: How to Protect Communities from Asphalt and Traffic. Contact: CLF, Rockland, ME, Regional Office:  120 Tillson Avenue, Rockland, ME 04841-3416; Telephone: (207) 594-8107; Fax: (207) 596-7706; Internet: 

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are federally designated planning organizations responsible for carrying out a continuous, comprehensive and cooperative transportation planning process for urbanized areas with populations of 50,000 or more.  Similar organizations exist in urban areas nationwide. There are four MPOs in Maine:
     Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation Study (BACTS);
     Kittery Area Comprehensive Transportation Study (KACTS);
     Lewiston-Auburn Comprehensive Transportation Study (LACTS);
     Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation Study (PACTS). 

Island Community Development:
Since 1995, the State Planning Office has collaborated with the IslandInstitute on projects related to sustaining Maine's 14 year-round island communities.