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COMPREHENSIVE PLAN UPDATE

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN UPDATE

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How should Saco grow in the future? What are our best features to protect or make even better? What changes does the city need to anticipate and plan for over the next decade?

We’re starting work on our next Comprehensive Plan, an important document which will provide guidance on these questions and others. It will describe a shared vision for our community's future that will inform policy and regulatory decisions over the next decade. Our current plan was adopted in 2011 and much has changed since then.

We want to hear from you! Community input is vitally important throughout the planning process. Please share your thoughts and ideas with us at our interactive website, attend (virtual) public forums, and tell your friends and neighbors about the planning process.Stantec-Saco Image Collection--0014

GET INVOLVED

Topic Meeting Series: Join us for any or all of 4 online public meetings to dive into some of the comprehensive plan’s major areas of focus. Discussion at these meetings will start to form the basis for the development of key recommendations. All meetings will be held via Zoom from 6:00-7:30pm using the access information below.

April 22: Downtown (Presentation, Summary & Meeting Video)
April 29: Mobility (Presentation, Summary & Meeting Video)
May 13: Housing and Development (Presentation, Summary & Meeting Video)
May 20: Sustainability (Presentation, Summary & Meeting Video)

Interactive website:
 Check out our Ideas Forum to respond to questions and see what others are saying. Click this link (note: this will take you off of the City of Saco website) to share your ideas with us and review work-in-progress throughout the planning process.

Public Kick-off Meeting: We held our first public event on January 21, 2021, an online forum to begin developing a shared vision for our future. The presentation explains what the comprehensive plan will include, describes trends influencing Saco’s future, and highlights important features of our residents, neighborhoods, and economy today. Attendees participated in small group discussions to share what they love about the city, what they’d like to improve, and ideas for the next 10-15 years.

  • Video recording available at this link (note: this will take you off of the City of Saco website).
  • Presentation pdf available at this link.
  • Meeting summary available at this link.

Up Next: We’re continuing to gather your ideas and thoughts about the future of Saco. Join us for the topic meeting series to share your perspective. Later this spring and summer, we’ll start developing initial recommendations and working with the LRPC to refine our strategies. Sign up to be notified of upcoming public events and website updates.

LONG-RANGE PLANNING COMMITTEE

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

DOCUMENT LIBRARY

  • Vision and Principles: Learn about the draft vision statement and guiding principles created for the comprehensive plan. These were developed with input from the public survey, LRPC members, and City staff.
  • Public Input Summary – Visioning. A summary of what we heard during our first round of public engagement. It includes themes from comments on the interactive map and survey results. These will inform our draft vision statement for the comprehensive plan.
  • Saco At A Glance 2021: A two-page summary explaining the topics in the comprehensive plan and providing a data dashboard that highlights key information about our community.
  • DRAFT Market Analysis & Action Plan Matrix: This 2020 plan provides tangible recommendations to help guide Saco’s economic development policies and strategies. The Action Plan Matrix identifies priorities and catalytic strategies to help leverage targeted growth and maximize economic return.
  • 2011 Comprehensive Plan: Our most recently approved Comprehensive Plan.
  • 2018 Comprehensive Plan Update: This amendment to the 2011 Plan focuses on downtown and adds sections addressing sea level rise and arts and culture.

PROJECT SCHEDULE

  • December 14, 2020: City Council voted to create the Long-Range Planning Committee to oversee the comprehensive plan process and its implementation
  • January 21, 2021: Kick-off public meeting
  • April/May 2021: Topic exploration
  • Summer 2021: Plan development
  • Fall 2021: Draft plan presentation
  • Winter 2021/Spring 2022: Final plan review, adoption, acceptance by State

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a comprehensive plan?

  • A municipality’s comprehensive plan takes a long-range look at various topics that impact the city’s character, preservation and growth, and fiscal condition. 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 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.

What opportunities will there be for the public to participate?

  • Our virtual kickoff forum took place in January 2021. Topic workshops will be held in the spring, followed by a draft plan open house in the fall. The City 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. Click this link (note: this will take you off of the City of Saco website) to share your thoughts.

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 does this process relate to the 2018 update?

  • The plan update adopted in 2018 focused primarily on downtown and added two 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, which was 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.