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  • 19 Jun 2017 11:23 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    It has been nearly two years since the U.S. Supreme Court, in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, invalidated a municipal sign ordinance that imposed different size, quantity, and length-of-display requirements on different types of temporary signs.  The Court reasoned that, because the sign ordinance classified signs into different categories on the basis of their messages—such as directional, political, and ideological signs—and subjected each category to different restrictions, the ordinance was unconstitutionally content based.  By many accounts, the Reed decision called into question the constitutionality of virtually every municipal sign ordinance in the country.  So, what has happened since then?

    As anticipated, Reed set off a flurry of First Amendment litigation that obliged lower courts to draw the line distinguishing constitutional and unconstitutional sign regulation with greater precision—and, in some instances, to revisit their prior decisions.  The Fourth Circuit, for example, recently reconsidered a city code that applied to private and secular flags and emblems, but exempted governmental and religious flags and emblems.   Five years prior, the court had upheld the validity of a sign ordinance with similar exemptions but, “[n]ow informed by the Supreme Court’s directive in Reed,” the court concluded that such an ordinance was unconstitutional.

    Post-Reed courts have also revisited decisions concerning anti-panhandling ordinances, now concluding that such ordinance are constitutionally problematic because they “target[ ] anyone seeking to engage in a specific type of speech, i.e., solicitation of donations.”   In Cutting v. City of Portland, Maine, the First Circuit invalidated Portland’s panhandling ordinance, which provided that “[n]o person shall stand, sit, stay, drive or park on a median strip . . . except that pedestrians may use median strips only in the course of crossing from one side of the street to the other.”   While the Court found the ordinance to be content neutral and subjected it to a less rigorous level of judicial scrutiny, the Court nonetheless noted that the ordinance imposed “serious burdens” on speech because it prohibited virtually all activity on median strips (areas deemed to be traditional venues for free speech) and concluded that it was “geographically over-inclusive with respect to the City’s concern that people lingering in all of [its] median strips—no matter which ones—pose a danger to those passing by.”

    Reed has also stirred up the dust in areas of sign regulation that were thought to be settled.  A Tennessee district court, for instance, concluded that a state statute distinguishing between on-premises and off-premises signs was unconstitutional.   This decision appears to be in the minority, however.  Indeed, the majority of courts that have considered commercial billboard bans post-Reed have concluded that Reed does not uproot precedent upholding on-premises/off-premises regulatory distinctions.

    Of course, some sign ordinances have survived First Amendment challenges following Reed.  In Peterson v. Village of Downers Grove, for example, a federal district court upheld a sign code placing type and quantity restrictions on wall signs, noting that the ordinance “is wholly indifferent to any specific message or viewpoint [and] applies to all signs, regardless of their message or content.”

    Perhaps less predictably, Reed has become a central force in shaping court decisions concerning governmental regulation of speech in contexts other than temporary signs.  Thus, Reed has been cited as the basis for invalidating a statute prohibiting politically-related robo-calls.   It has been used to uphold a city ordinance regulating unattended donation collection boxes.   And it has been key to deciding a challenge to a federal law that requires producers of sexually explicit materials to collect information demonstrating that their performers are not minors.

    There certainly seems to be no end in sight to free speech litigation following Reed.  In this litigious environment, municipal planners and officers should continue to tread carefully when drafting or implementing any ordinance provision that limits expression.  Surely, any sweeping ban on speech—whether vis-à-vis a sign ordinance or otherwise—is likely to have constitutional infirmities.  But even governmental regulations that appear not to touch on speech rights at all (think: exempting holiday decorations from permitting requirements, or licensing requirements for street performers) could trigger First Amendment concerns if the regulations unduly restrict free speech or treat certain speech preferentially.  To minimize litigation risk, askyou’re your ordinances completely ban any form of speech or expression?  Do they give preferential regulatory treatment to a message, a speaker, or a category of speech?  Do they exempt certain types of expression from permitting?  Do they encourage arbitrary enforcement?  If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, seek out an expert to help you assess whether your regulatory regime passes constitutional muster.

    -- Agnieszka (Pinette) Dixon, Drummond Woodsum


    Aga Dixon focuses her legal practice on public finance and municipal and land use matters. Before joining the law firm of Drummond Woodsum, Aga was a senior planner at the Maine Land Use Planning Commission where she coordinated comprehensive planning projects, rulemaking initiatives, and regulatory reviews of significant and controversial development projects. Aga has done extensive legal research on the intersection of government regulation and free speech rights, and has advised municipal clients on how to draft sign regulations that achieve planning goals and are constitutionally sound.


    References:

    1- Cent. Radio Co. Inc. v. City of Norfolk, Va., 811 F.3d 625, 633 (4th Cir. 2016). 

    2- Id. at 634. 

    3- Thayer v. City of Worcester, 144 F. Supp. 3d 218, at n.2 (D. Mass. 2015); see also, e.g., Homeless Helping Homeless, Inc., v. City of Tampa, Florida, 2016 WL 4162882 (M.D. Fla., Tampa Div., Aug. 5, 2016) (slip copy); McLaughlin v. City of Lowell, 140 F. Supp. 3d 177 (D. Mass. 2015); Norton v. City of Springfield, 806 F.3d 411 (7th Cir. 2015); Browne v. City of Grand Junction, 136 F. Supp. 3d 1276 (D. Colo.2015). 

    4- Cutting v. City of Portland, Maine, 802 F.3d 79, 81-82 (1st Cir. 2015). 

    5- Id. at 89. 

    6 - See Thomas v. Schroer, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, 2017 WL 1208672 (W.D. Tenn., Mar. 31, 2017) (holding the State of Tennessee Billboard Act an unconstitutional, content-based regulation of speech). 

    7 - See, e.g., Geft Outdoor LLC v. Consol. City of Indianapolis & Cty. of Marion, Indiana, 187 F. Supp. 3d 1002, 1016 (S.D. Ind. 2016) (summarizing cases). 

    8 - Peterson v. Vill. of Downers Grove, 150 F. Supp. 3d 910, 919 (N.D. Ill. 2015). 

    9 -See Cahaly v. Larosa, 796 F.3d 399 (4th Cir. 2015). 

    10 - See Recycle for Change v. City of Oakland, 856 F.3d 666 (9th Cir. 2017). 

    11 - See Free Speech Coalition, Inc., V. Attorney General United States, 825 F.3d 149 (2016).


  • 19 Jun 2017 10:50 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    “New Ruralism” has been a project initiative of the Northern New England Chapter of APA (NNECAPA) for five years.  Maine Association of Planners has been participating through the work of Mark Lapping and Lynne Seeley.

    In May, the Northern New England Chapter of APA (NNECPA) New Ruralism project was the subject of one of the workshops at the 2017 APA National Conference in New York City.  Over 100 planners and others attended the workshop.  The focus of the workshop was on sharing 9 of the “stories” from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, highlighting the rural renaissance that has been happening in Northern New England.  

    Northern New England is a leader in local food system planning, has growing success in the energy sector, provides countless examples of creative entrepreneurism to grow the local economy, has demonstrated success in balancing preservation of vital natural resources and economic opportunity, and finds innovative ways to address the sometimes unique social services needs in rural communities. The goal was to share New England stories of rural communities that are working hard to meet the needs of their residents, demonstrating leadership with creative approaches to modern challenges. 

    The session was facilitated by the long-time Chair of the APA’s Small Town and Rural Division (STaR), Chad Nabity.  Presenters included Peg Elmer Hough, former Professor of Land Use Law and Policy at Vermont Law School, Jo Anne Carr, Director of Planning and Economic Development in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, and Lynne Seeley, a community planning consultant in Maine.

    --Lynne Seeley, Planning Consultant


  • 19 Jun 2017 10:33 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    MAP’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Conference brought together over 50 planners and friends on a sunny day in May, in the Historic Old Town Hall in Freeport.   

    The day featured opportunities for learning about recent form-based code efforts in Maine communities, recognition of some of the dedicated and exemplary planning work going on across the state, and a “surprise” celebration for retiring planning leaders.  It was a special day, bringing together many old and new friends around our shared passion for planning.

    The MAP business meeting included a brief overview of the Board’s activities over the past year, including the Treasurer’s Report and annual budget; the Communications, Professional Development, and Legislative Policy Committees; and some discussion of current issues.  Among the current issues being discussed by the Board and with the membership are:

    • next year’s MAP 50th Anniversary (and NNECAPA conference),
    • an affirmative vote by membership for the Board to explore options to hire out bookkeeping and accounting services,
    • anticipated discussions with NNECAPA on options for improved efficiency of services, capacity, and funding related to how the state associations and NNECAPA are organized and inter-related, and
    • the potential for MAP to actively engage in making improvements to the Maine subdivision law.

    For more on these issues watch for updates and notices of meetings in the fall and winter; MAP members are always invited to participate in Board meetings or join one of the Committees! 

    And while the Board will miss Misty Parker, Amanda Lessard, Tom Martin, and Phil Carey (with gratitude for all they did for MAP!), new Board members were welcomed at the Annual Meeting: Jim Fisher, Samantha Horn-Olsen, and Hugh Cox.

    The day’s informational session featured a Form-Based Code 201 Workshop and walking tour in Downtown Freeport.  A number of Maine communities are now implementing form-based codes as a different approach to zoning – we heard about efforts in Bridgton, Yarmouth and Portland.  

    Thank you to our speakers, Anne Krieg (formerly Town of Bridgton), Alex Jaegerman (Town of Yarmouth), and Caitlin Cameron (City of Portland), as well as our walking tour leader, Vanessa Farr (Planner, Maine Design Workshop).

    This year’s planning awards featured Lewiston’s Comprehensive Plan, the Belfast Rail Trail, Citizen Planner Don Russell of Topsham, and Theo Holtwijk of Falmouth as Professional Planner of the Year.  Read more about the award winners here.

    And the day concluded with a celebration of our veteran planner friends –Mark Eyerman, Chuck Lawton, Tom Martin, Frank O’Hara, and Evan Richert - honoring each with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  It was a trip down memory lane, as Kay Rand, Mark Lapping, Mark Eyerman, and Evan Richert, shared stories, providing laughs and good cheer, while reminding us about the values we all share in our work. 

    It was an Annual Meeting that brought together many friends – it felt like a homecoming!

    --Lynne Seeley, Planning Consultant

  • 19 Jun 2017 10:12 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    Farming-Friendly Communities

    Maintaining rural character, creating economic opportunity, buying local, building community – many communities are talking about one or more of these ideas. Has your community identified any one of these as important goals?  Are there farms and/or farmland in your community? If so, then actively supporting farming may help accomplish some of your community goals. Think “farming-friendly”!

    Farming in Maine is making a comeback. In 2016 the USDA reported 8,200 farms in Maine, an increase of almost 14%*. Maine leads the nation in growth of organic farms adding over 100 new organic farms from 2008-2014 (Bangor Daily News 9/26/15). Local farms mean local foods, and many Maine communities are embracing this by supporting farming, by taking steps to ensure they are “farming-friendly”.

    Farming-friendly communities support farming through local planning, policies, ordinances and activities. Farming-friendly communities encourage active participation from farmers, residents and town officials to keep farming viable. Your community can take steps to become farming-friendly.


    Benefits of Strong, Healthy Agriculture

    A strong, healthy agricultural economy comes from supporting farms of all types - traditional dairy and crop farms, and smaller-scale farms growing produce, herbs, flowers, seedlings, meats or other specialty products. And these farms provide a number of benefits to a community.

    Economic Opportunity

    • The market value of Maine’s agricultural products increased 24% from $617,190,000 to $763,062,000*.
    • Farms support and serve a broad base of local businesses. From equipment and farm supply stores, to mechanics, to veterinarians, to fuel suppliers, farming helps create a diverse economic base for a region.
    • “Agritourism” provides opportunities to visit farms and observe farm activities. Participating farm numbers increased from 112 in 2007 to 270 in 2012, or 141%*.

    Environmental Benefits

    • Farm fields and wetlands are important areas for groundwater recharge. Farm hedgerows filter rain and surface water runoff helping to protect water quality.
    • Farms provide essential habitat for fish, birds and other important wildlife species.

    Rural Character and Legacy

    • Farms provide natural areas and rural vistas that are important landscapes for “rural character”. 
    • Maine’s farms are a historic/cultural legacy in many communities.

    Build Community

    • Farms days, harvest suppers, farmers’ markets all offer opportunities for bringing people together to build new connections between farms and their community.

    Protect Working Farmland

    Farmers need productive, and affordable, land to run a viable farm business. As communities grow, new development may put pressure on farmland (e.g. acquisition for house lots) and/or compatibility may become an issue (e.g. noise and/or odor from farm operations).  The challenge is how to provide for and protect agricultural land use while also accommodating growth. Planning for agriculture helps to ensure that farming will have a place as your community grows and that your community is “farming-friendly”. Some steps your community can take to protect working farmland include:

    • Work with farmers to identify and prioritize farmland.
    • Support landowners’ enrollment in Maine’s current use tax programs: Farmland, Tree Growth, Open Space and Working Waterfront.
    • Support landowners’ efforts to permanently preserve their land for agriculture.

    It’s not farmland without farmers.™

    Without farmers, there is no “farm” in farmland.  When planning for agriculture, the most important step is to engage your community’s farmers. Reach out and bring farmers in to the conversation with residents and town officials, to envision the community’s farming future.

    Meet with farmers

    • Understand their needs.
    • Learn about changes affecting their industry.
    • Identify ongoing ways for working with them.

    Support farmers and farming

    • Adopt farm-friendly policies and ordinances that enable farms to diversify and expand their businesses.
    • Help farmers access good farmland.
    • Encourage farmers who sell direct to consumers to sign up on Get Real Maine. Then help everyone learn about local farms with a link on the Town’s website.
    • Promote farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA’s), farm days and other events.
    • Encourage beginning farmers to move to your community. Check out the “Beginning Farmer Resource Network” page.
    • Recognize the farm families for their land stewardship.

    For more ideas on engaging farmers, visit "Know Your Farmers" on the Maine Farmland Trust website.

    The Farming-Friendly Toolbox

    Wondering how to turn the above steps in to action, to create a “farming-friendly” community? Fortunately, there are public policies, programs, organizations, resources and a growing number of local examples to help towns take action to support farming – a “farming-friendly” toolbox!

    State Policies, Programs and Organizations

    • Maine’s Agriculture Protection Act (“Right-to-Farm Law”) protects farmers from complaints from neighbors about odors, noise and other aspects of properly-conducted farming operations. Maine Farmland Trust provides a link to a model local ordinance Right-To-Farm-Ordinance
    • Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (MDACF) offers programs and resources to support farming, forestry, parks and lands and land use planning.  For example, its Maine’s Farms for the Future Program helps established farms with business planning to increase profitability. Explore MDACF’s “support center” website.
    • Maine’s Farm, Open Space and Tree Growth Programs allows owners of eligible properties to voluntarily enroll with their town for their land to be assessed at its current, rather than “highest and best” use, helping to reduce economic pressure to convert farmland to other uses.
    • Maine’s Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program (VMFSP) allows communities to preserve farmland by purchasing 20-year agricultural easements from eligible landowners who voluntarily apply. The Town of Winslow is the first Maine community to create and adopt a VMFSP in May 2016 (Kennebec Journal 10/30/16).
    • USDA Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to governments and local land trusts to protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of land.
    • Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) supports farmers and farming through programs for farmland protection and access, farm viability, and public outreach. MFT’s Cultivating Maine’s Agricultural Future “A Guide for Towns, Land Trusts, and Farm Supporters” provides examples and “how to” ideas.

    Local Policies, Programs and Strategies

    • Comprehensive Plans lay the foundation for supporting farming and farmland protection. Establishing agricultural goals, policies and actions promotes awareness of the benefits, and needs, of farming in a community. See Municipal Action: Local Planning on the MFT website.
    • Local ordinances help implement the Comprehensive Plan, and provide regulatory support for farming.
    • Land Use or Zoning Ordinances establish appropriate districts/standards for agriculture uses and practices,
    • Conservation/Open Space subdivision ordinances and Transfer of development rights programs can preserve farmland.
    • Local farming groups can help raise awareness of the value of agriculture.  Groups like Cape Farm Alliance, Monmouth Grows, Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative hold events, educate, and provide assistance to support farmers and farming.
    • Agricultural Committees/Commissions are farm-focused groups that work to protect and promote agriculture in their communities. The Winslow Agricultural Commission was appointed in 2014 to help ensure that the town is friendly to agriculture.
    • Collaboration with Land Trusts can often help towns complete farmland protection projects (e.g. conservation easements) and can provide technical, and sometimes financial, assistance with these efforts.

    Many Maine communities are working on being “farming-friendly”. Check out the Municipal Farming Friendly Provisions and Strategies Overview Table to get ideas. Let us know what your town is doing!

    -- Lynne Seeley, Planning Consultant

    This article is part of the GrowSmart Maine Educational Briefs series, and is reposted with permission. Please visit their website to see the other "briefs" on smart growth planning topics. Produced with help from Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Farmland Trust and American Farmland Trust. More Tools Available at GrowSmartMaine—www.growsmartmaine.org.


  • 19 Jun 2017 9:59 PM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)

    Although several Maine towns have adopted form based coding (FBCs), communities with limited resources and little or no professional staff can achieve very similar results through a simpler set of form-based design standards, (FBDS) as listed below. In Freeport, design regulations (in Chapters 21 and 22 of its zoning) apply in two central districts, one primarily commercial, the other primarily residential. When zoning or design review standards are being developed, neighborhood meetings are held to learn about neighborhood concerns. Ordinance language is developed accordingly. Although its fairly basic design standards have served this community very well, other towns might want to supplement them with more specific language, particularly if this approach is new to Planning Board members.

    One big advantage of FBDS is that they can be written in-house or with minimal consultant time. Creating FBCs typically cost tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes as much as $150,0000, even for small rural communities with very small downtowns. There are no obvious downsides to the simpler approach if the standards address the items in the below list (which go beyond the simple Freeport model). Of course, as with all new codes, attention must be paid to help the community understand any new language (e.g. street frontage buildout), and new processes for administering the design standards, besides building consensus on desired design characteristics.

    My approach to planning, since my first job at Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission (SMRPC) forty years ago, has been to find the most cost-effective regulation, providing towns the most for their money. In researching the new Rural by Design, I discovered another community that achieves great results with FBDS -- Davidson NC, which considered FBCs but decided against them (as has Freeport), figuring it could achieve much the same results without increasing the complexity of their codes.

    Key elements of Form-based Design Standards include:

    • Maximum Front Setback, with allowances for alcoves.
    • Minimum Building Height, with requirements for functional upper floors and height proportional to street width.
    • Primary door entrances along the street side opening onto sidewalks (or opening to a street corner)
    • Minimum glazing requirements along the street side for commercial buildings
    • Reduce on-lot parking requirements
    • Parking to the rear or side. Screen side parking from streets by walls, fences, or landscaping about 42 inches high.
    • Minimum street frontage built-up to minimize gaps between buildings
    • Maximum block length
    • Broader use-mix within buildings and blocks
    • Shade tree planting along streets and in parking lots
    • Greater mix of different residential building types.  Permit single-family, two-family, or three-family homes on any lot in most residential districts

    Readers can learn more about “lighter” FBCs and design standards in Simplify That Code!, a recent article published by the American Planning Association http://greenerprospects.com/PDFs/Simplify_thatCode.pdf

    Images: Two buildings along Freeport’s main street, approved under the town’s design standards.

     

     

    -- Randall Arendt, President, Greener Prospects, Brunswick, Maine

  • 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

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