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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: Maine

Residents Help Create Smart Community
West Bath
New Roads, New Business Park, New Sprawl

Residents Help Create Smart Community

Bayside is a 100-acre neighborhood dominated by two giant scrap-metal yards. After city officials floated some controversial proposals for developing the area -- including building a 10,000-seat arena -- local residents decided to craft a different plan. Several freewheeling planning sessions that brought together property owners, developers, planners and residents were held to brainstorm on the scope and design of the project.

From the outset, stakeholders have been pushing to make any redevelopment of the area environmentally friendly. The smart-growth features of Bayside start with its location: right downtown, behind city hall.

The planning sessions for Bayside have also focused on incorporating smart-growth planning into the new development itself. Stakeholders want to make the neighborhood walkable and ensure it is well connected to Portland's public-transportation system. The planning sessions have also focused on creating a mix of developments in the area -- including new housing, a community center and recreational space -- while retaining the social services now clustered there.

Portland has enjoyed some respite from the suburban sprawl that is threatening so many of our communities. But the city's success stems from more than laws and rules -- it is also the product of open-minded, inclusive planning that empowers residents to participate in creating their future.

West Bath
New Roads, New Business Park, New Sprawl

The United States has lost hundreds of thousands of acres of prime farm land over the last several years. The conversion of a farm that straddles the boundary between the city of Bath and the town of West Bath shows how this process happens.

The 100-acre site, once a historic farm, is being turned into a giant business park. Companies need space to conduct their affairs, but by creating a single-use area that is cut off from its surroundings, the business park threatens to worsen sprawl in the area. Already the city has used state and local funding to extend infrastructure and build new roads. This spending gives sprawling growth like the business park a subtle but significant advantage that encourages more of the same.

Commercial development is important to balancing growth in an area. But in this case, the project will create more sprawl. Perhaps if West Bath and surrounding communities move toward a more open planning process they could better balance growth and protect open space.

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments

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