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South Portland asks residents to help shape city's future

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South Portland asks residents to help shape city's future

SOUTH PORTLAND — The city is inviting residents to comment on how it deals with business growth, housing, open space, the environment, public facilities and more during "Comprehensive Plan Week," which begins Tuesday, June 19. 

The Comprehensive Plan is a set of recommendations the city uses as a guide for making long-term decisions about everything from land use to landscaping. The earliest version of the document was written in the 1940s, and the most recent update was completed in 1992.

A committee of city councilors, Planning Board members, residents and business representatives have been working to update the plan since 2009. Next week, they'll present their recommendations to residents and ask for feedback.

There are three ways to participate: An in-person forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Community Center, which will feature live music and food; an online video presentation and survey available at southportland.org June 20-23; and an interactive online forum at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 24, with Mark Eyerman of Planning Decisions and city Planning Director Tex Haeuser. 

Residents interested in participating in the interactive online forum must register by calling Haeuser at 767-7603 ext. 1 or emailing chaeuser@southportland.org.

While Haeuser said that, in general, the Comprehensive Plan is not a binding document, it does in some cases have legal teeth. 

“The strategies recommended for areas like housing, local economy and transportation are truly recommendations; they're not binding," he said. "However, there have been court cases in Maine that have said a municipality's zoning and land use regulations do need to conform to its comprehensive plan.”

He said the committee will be interested in hearing whether residents agree with the direction they've taken with their recommendations, and will earnestly take taxpayer concerns into account with further revisions.

"If people clearly don't like it, or want something else or want us to go in a different direction, or want us to pursue something else, the committee will make modifications," Haeuser said. 

For more information on Comprehensive Plan Week, visit southportland.org.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.