Guest column: Durham plans for future

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In 1988, Maine adopted the Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Act. The Act was in response to the rapid growth experienced by many communities in the 1970s and ’80s. Many communities were not well prepared to manage this growth in an effective way. The end result was often a pattern of urban sprawl that forever altered the character of these communities. Issues also arose regarding water quality, open spaces, agricultural lands, wildlife habitat and property development rights. The Comprehensive Planning process provides communities an opportunity to manage growth, plan for economic development and protect important natural resources in a way that is consistent with the wishes of the community members.

Comprehensive plans also provide the legal framework upon which local ordinances are written. Without a plan that has been reviewed by the state and found to be consistent with state guidelines, many ordinances are not legally enforceable. If we want our town to have clear and enforceable ordinances, we must first have an approved Comprehensive Plan.

Durham’s current plan was last reviewed in 2002. This summer the Board of Selectmen appointed a new Comprehensive Planning Committee to review and update Durham’s Comprehensive Plan and bring it into compliance with state requirements.

Over the next several months, the committee will be seeking input from Durham citizens on many of the issues listed above, as well as several others. Our first effort will be a survey that will be available from Nov. 1-15. Surveys can be picked up and dropped off at the Durham Community School, the Durham Get & Go or the Town Office. We will also have surveys available at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 8.

In the near future, public visioning meetings will be scheduled so that we can learn more about what people want our town to look like over the next 10 or 20 years. We will also be reaching out to other local organizations and groups, asking if some of our members can join you for one of your meetings and learn more about your ideas and concerns.

Durham residents’ input and participation in this process is critically important. The committee’s job is to gather as much input as possible and present a plan to voters that best reflects the collective vision of what we want our town to be.

The members of the Comprehensive Planning Committee are listed below. Feel free to reach out to any of us with your questions, concerns and ideas. You can also email your thoughts to administrator@durhamme.com and they will be forwarded to the committee. We look forward to hearing from you.

The members of the Comprehensive Planning Committee are: Kevin Nadeau, chairman; Jake Atherton, vice chairman; Page Crowley, secretary; Wally Staples, treasurer; and Pam Bosarge, Lon Butcher, Juliet Caplinger, John Simoneau, Seren Sinisi, Steve Sinisi and Chelsea Stewart.