CAMDEN (AP) – Newcomers to Maine’s midcoast region have achieved population parity with natives and are on track to outnumber them within five to 10 years, according to a recent survey.

Because the two groups often have divergent values and attitudes, the demographic shift can affect decisions regarding development, land use and transportation, said Evan Richert, a former director of the State Planning Office.

Richert, now associate research professor of planning, development and environment at the University of Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, spoke Thursday night at the annual meeting of the Friends of Mid-Coast Maine, a planning and anti-sprawl advocacy group.

His statistics came from a telephone survey of 521 year-round residents in 21 municipalities that make up the U.S. Route 1 corridor from Brunswick to Prospect. The survey was conducted as part of the Department of Transportation’s Gateway 1 initiative, a push to develop a kind of comprehensive plan for the region.

In-migrants already outnumber native-born Mainers by nearly 2-1 in some parts of the corridor, including the Rockport-Camden-Lincolnville-Northport area, Richert said, with communities several miles inland likely showing very different population breakdowns.

The survey showed a sharp divide between the two groups in terms of formal education, Richert said, with 70 percent of newcomers and only 30 percent of natives holding college degrees.

“What formal level of educational attainment does often dictate is earning power and degree of economic opportunity, and ultimately income,” he said.

Richert suggested that income is a key determinant in shaping attitudes toward land use and transportation questions.

“Those with earning power and income and financial security simply have more options than those who do not have the same earning power and income and financial security,” he said.

Natives tend to view family farms, wood lots, businesses or Route 1 land as assets that could be converted to cash when the time is right, Richert said, while in-migrants who have settled in the midcoast because of its “spectacular character” may place a priority in protecting it from development.

The survey found that about two-thirds of natives think they should be able to use their land as they see fit, while only 40 percent of newcomers agree.

Information from: Bangor Daily News,

AP-ES-06-09-07 1240EDT

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