As a 1960-72 former member of the Auburn Planning Board, I would like to share a fact-based overview.

Prior to 1964, there was no zoning in rural Auburn beyond the city limits. In the 1950s, Auburn city councils were very concerned with residential building in the rural areas, due to the cost of municipal services exceeding the increases in revenue.

The city council engaged a consultant (Blackwell), whose 1958 recommendations of absolutely no new residential building in the farm and forest zone became the foundation for the 1964 council’s adoption of the current zoning ordinance.

In 1964, Blackwell’s original recommendation of no residential building in the farm and forest zone was slightly modified to allow a bona fide, truly committed farmer to rebuild or build a residence in the event of a loss or required upgrade.

In the late 1960s, the city planner requested the guidance of any easy-to-administer interpretation of “bona fide farmer.” The so-called “50% of gross income rule” to rebuild or build a farmer’s residence was the suggested guidance offered by the Planning Board.

In the mid-1980s, a University of Maine Farmington report indicated that the 20-year performance of the zoning ordinance was meeting the council’s objectives.

To the best of my knowledge, all zoning expansions or modifications since the 1980s to allow Auburn to maintain an ongoing, available inventory of buildable lots (without opening up the “Ag Zone”) have occurred and continue to be an allowable option with Planning Board and council approval.

Maurice Keene, Auburn

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