Durham holding forum on growth plan

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DURHAM — A community forum will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Durham Community School for residents to share their concerns and goals for growth and development in town over the next 20 years.

The forum is part of the Durham Comprehensive Plan Committee’s work to update the plan.

Growth management options under discussion include:

• Directing and facilitating construction of a majority of new homes onto smaller lots in the southwest bend growth district to preserve rural character in the rest of town;

• Allowing new homes to spread across the community on larger lots while improving regulations to buffer development from public views and those of neighbors; or,

• Rolling back land-use regulations to allow smaller lots everywhere in town as long as state minimum environmental standards are met.

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“The community forum will be an important opportunity for citizens to have a say in how this town develops over the next 20 years,” Committee Chairman and Selectman Kevin Nadeau said.

Between 2000 and 2015, more than 400 new homes were built in Durham. During a process the past two years to collect input on updating the town’s comprehensive plan, residents indicated that preserving rural character is an important goal.

Durham recently hired a part-time land-use planner to help the committee prepare the draft update of the town’s comprehensive plan and to draft ordinance changes to implement the town’s goals for growth management.

“We want to explore how the town can successfully accommodate another 400 units of housing over the next 20 years, while preserving community character and protecting natural resources,” Town Planner George Thebarge said.

One of the goals of the committee is to make sure its effort meets the requirements of the Maine Growth Management Act, which requires towns doing comprehensive planning and land-use regulation to provide for broad public participation. 

“It’s easy to ignore land-use regulations until you want to sell some land or build a home, or a new subdivision is being planned across the street in the field or woods that you have always enjoyed as open space,” Thebarge said. “The comprehensive plan establishes the policy framework for how such development activities will be regulated.”

For more information about the forum, contact Town Administrator Ruth Glaeser at 353-2561, ext. 10, or [email protected]

Durham Town Hall

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