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The City of Saco is in the process of substantially updating its citywide Comprehensive Plan. This important document will describe a shared vision for our community's future that will guide policy and regulatory decisions over the next decade.

The previous plan was adopted in 2011 and is now ten years old. In 2018, a partial update focused on our downtown and added sections to ensure sustainability and showcase arts and culture. Topics covered during this citywide process will include demographic trends, land use and transportation, sustainability and resiliency, economic development, parks and open spaces, natural resources, historic preservation, public facilities, arts and culture, and fiscal capacity.

We want to hear from you!
Community input will be vitally important throughout the planning process. Please share your thoughts and ideas with us, attend (virtual) public forums, and tell your friends and neighbors about the planning process.

Our first public event, an online kickoff forum to begin developing a shared vision for our future, will be held on January 21, 2021. Please see the information below to join this remote meeting:

Zoom Webinar link: Click here to join.
Webinar ID: 826 6649 5342
Dial-in number: (646) 558-8656

An interactive public website will also launch in January 2021 which will host surveys, mapping exercises, and other ways to hear your ideas and gather your feedback throughout the process. In the spring, we will hold a series of topic-based workshops, followed by other meetings and events later in the year.

Sign up to be notified of upcoming public events and website updates

Project Schedule

  • December 14, 2020: City Council voted to create the Long-Range Planning Committee to oversee the comprehensive plan update process and its implementation
  • Winter 2020/Spring 2021: Visioning and topic exploration
  • Summer 2021: Plan development
  • Fall 2021: Draft plan presentation
  • Winter 2021/Spring 2022: Final plan review, adoption, acceptance by State

Long-Range Planning CommitteE
The Mayor is forming a Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC) to guide the comprehensive planning process. It will include representatives from City departments as well as community members. This committee will guide the planning process and oversee implementation after the plan is adopted.

Frequently asked questions 
What is a comprehensive plan?
  • A municipality’s comprehensive plan takes a long-range look at various topics that impact the character, preservation and growth, and fiscal condition of the place. It provides a shared community vision and policy framework that guides public and private decision-making.
What is included in a comprehensive plan?
  • Maine’s Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulation Act (MRSA Title 30-A) establishes requirements for a municipal comprehensive plan. It must include an inventory and analysis of current conditions and trends, a policy development section, implementation strategy section, regional coordination program, and implementation program.
  • Inventory and analysis topics include economic and demographic data, water resources, natural resources, marine-related resources, forestry and agricultural land, parks and open spaces, transportation systems, housing stock, historical and archeological resources, land use and development patterns, and capital facilities and public services.
How does a comprehensive plan relate to other City regulations and policies?
  • “Comprehensive plans are the legal underpinning of zoning ordinances – intended to assure that the power of zoning is not used arbitrarily, unfairly, or without attention to documented needs.” The comprehensive plan should also guide the City’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which identifies large public expenditures over the next five (5) years.
    Source: Richert, Evan, and Sylvia Most. “Comprehensive Planning: A Manual for Maine Communities”. Maine State Planning Office: 2005.
How frequently must a comprehensive plan be updated?
  • Once completed, the State of Maine reviews a municipality’s comprehensive plan and issues a Finding of Consistency if it meets the requirements. This Finding of Consistency is valid for twelve (12) years from the date of issue. Amendments to a comprehensive plan can be made at any time and do not reset the duration of the original consistency finding.
  • Saco’s current comprehensive plan was adopted in 2011, and its Finding of Consistency expires in 2023.
How does this process relate to the 2018 update?
  • The plan update adopted in 2018 focused primarily on downtown and added the new sections: sustainability and arts and culture. That update is not comprehensive nor citywide and does not extend the timeline for updating the entire comprehensive plan.
How does this process relate to the Zoning Ordinance Revision?
  • This comprehensive planning process is separate from the Zoning Ordinance Update, a key recommendation of the 2018 plan update. Once complete, the new comprehensive plan may recommend further zoning revisions to align with the community’s vision and demonstrated needs.
What opportunities will there be for the public to participate?
  • Join us for a virtual kickoff forum in January 2021. Topic workshops will be held in the spring, followed by a draft plan open house in the fall.  We will hold public hearings during the formal review and adoption process, anticipated to take place in late 2021 and early 2022.
  • An interactive project website will host short surveys, mapping exercises, and other methods of collecting ideas and presenting in-progress work for review throughout the process. That website will launch in January 2021.

Document Library

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Bob Hamblen, City Planner