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Maine Land Use Planning (1-ME-a)

In Maine, land use planning is primarily delegated to local governments and the Maine Land Use Planning Commission, part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. A developer should ensure that the proposed project complies with adopted land use plans and zoning regulations. Municipalities have authority to develop local comprehensive planning and development regulations that comply with the land use planning goals of the State. 30-A M.R.S. § 43122.


The Maine Land Use Planning Commission is the planning and zoning authority for unorganized and de-organized areas of the State, including townships and plantations. These unorganized and de-organized areas of the State have no local government or the local government has chosen not to administer land use controls at the local level. Unorganized and de-organized areas of Maine encompass more than 10.4 million acres and include the largest continuous undeveloped area in the northeast. Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry – Land Use Commission Webpage.


Land Use Planning Process

1-ME-a.1 – Review Land Use Plans and Zoning Regulations

The developer should check the local government website, or contact the municipal clerk, or planning board to identify land use development plans and zoning regulations.

Municipalities

Municipalities have authority to develop local comprehensive planning and development regulations that comply with the land use planning goals of the State. 30-A M.R.S. § 43122.

Maine land use planning goals, in part:

  • Encourage orderly growth and development…while protecting the State’s rural character, making efficient use of public services, and preventing development sprawl;
  • Protect the quality and mange the quantity of State’s water resources, including lakes, aquifers, great ponds, estuaries, rivers and coastal areas;
  • Protect the State’s other critical natural resources, including without limitation, wetlands, wildlife and fisheries habitat, sand dunes, shorelands, scenic vistas, and unique natural areas;
  • Protect the State’s marine resources industry, ports, and harbors from incompatible development and to promote access to the shore for commercial fishermen and the public;
  • Safeguard the State’s agricultural and forest resources from development, which threatens those resources;
  • Preserve the State’s historic and archeological resources; and
  • Promote and protect the availability of outdoor recreation opportunities for all Maine citizens, including access to surface waters.

30-A M.R.S. § 4312(2).

Unorganized or De-organized Areas

If the proposed project is within an unorganized or de-organized area, the developer should contact the Maine Land Use Planning Commission. The Maine Land Use Planning Commission is the planning and zoning authority for unorganized and de-organized areas of the State, including townships and plantations. These unorganized and de-organized areas of the State have no local government or the local government has chosen not to administer land use controls at the local level. Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry – Land Use Commission Webpage.


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