NEW GLOUCESTER – Town Planner Amanda Simpson is nearing her first 100 days on the job as the town’s full-time planner.

When she assumed her duties April 28, New Gloucester was in the final stages of gathering public comment on recommendations for a business and economic development study, and the Planning Board was in the midst of reviewing complex residential and commercial subdivision applications.

At the same time the town’s zoning committee hoped to get the nod from voters May 1 for an accessory apartment ordinance, which ultimately failed.

Simpson brings vast experience in planning. She was planning director at Laconia, N.H., for about eight years working on more than 75 downtown projects. More recently, she served as assessor for the town of Raymond.

She succeeded James Isaacson, who was New Gloucester’s first full-time planner.

A native of Ocean City, Md., she’s resided in Maine and New Hampshire for roughly 20 years. A member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a national organization, she attended graduate school studying geology.

“I became a planner because of my interest in resource management,” she said.

“Implementing planning though the regulatory process is a mechanism where the community can regulate itself and can come to decisions in that management,” said Simpson on Monday.

“The public process has integrity in the community process. As a planner, it should be fair and consistent to all,” she said.

“New Gloucester is historically a small slowly growing close knit community with growing pains,” Simpson said. “New Gloucester is at the crossroads and has very typical zoning and has been progressive in developing resource protections, for example a Transfer of Development Rights Ordinance.

Landowners in sending and receiving zones can get density bonus lot development incentives by participating in the program. However, to date, the ordinance has not been exercised.

“Really, a town builds itself the way you zone it. Here, it will be no different from other towns. We will be a very large suburbia (in time), Simpson said.

New Gloucester’s rapid residential growth during the last quarter century changed historic land use. Large farms and open land has been divided into house lots. The bedroom town, where residents commute to Portland, Lewiston-Auburn, for example, includes some home business establishments and small business operations locally.

However, the town still has no public drinking water or sewer system, no sidewalks, no police department, no trash pickup, no banks, dry cleaners or service businesses for shopping.

The business and economic study recommendation favors business development along Route 100 at Upper Gloucester and former Route 26, the Sabbathday Lake Road areas.

Because of the lack of infrastructure services, New Gloucester’s Zoning Ordinance requires no more than four residential units be built on eight acres of land in the rural residential zone.

Chairman Jean Libby of the seven-member Planning Board welcomes Simpson’s arrival.

“Though Amanda came in at a very difficult time with complex applications, hopefully our business will slow down based on the economy slowing down. Her arrival makes it easier for me. She will be a good asset for the town, and bring everything together, especially with her knowledge for economic development.”

Libby is the mother of Zoning Committee Chairman Donald Libby and Selectman Steve Libby, who chairs the five-member board.

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