North Yarmouth Comp Plan revision could be ready next spring

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A revision of the town’s 2004 Comprehensive Plan, guided in part by input from a recent community survey, could be complete by April 2018.

The Comprehensive Plan Committee will meet at Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, to discuss the results of that survey and to plan a community forum on the results for January, Town Manager Rosemary Roy said in an interview Dec. 14.

The 15-question 2016 Residential Survey – available online and in print, and due back Nov. 15 – received 420 responses, about 10 percent of North Yarmouth’s population, Roy said.

Almost everyone who responded were full-time residents, nearly 40 percent of whom have lived in town more than 20 years. Most responders saw North Yarmouth as a bedroom community of Portland, while others considered the town a growing suburb of that city.

Nearly 57 percent said they would like to see North Yarmouth become a village-centered community, significantly beating out a bedroom community (11 percent) or rural farming community (14 percent), a growing Portland suburb (11 percent), or “Other” (nearly 8 percent).

The top three advantages to living in North Yarmouth were its small town feel and rural way of life (according to 72 percent of responses), proximity to Portland and other urban areas (58 percent), and school system (55 percent).

Most responders (46.5 percent) said a community center needs development, followed by elderly services and aging-in-place initiatives (40 percent).

Most of those surveyed “somewhat support” encouragement of residential development in the Village Center (43 percent), and development of 1 acre or less in designated growth areas (40 percent), as well as of mixed-use development in the Village Center (45 percent).

Nearly 90 percent opposed mobile home parks in town, followed by 73 percent against mobile homes on single lots, and 63 percent deemed apartment buildings unfavorable. Many encouraged single-family homes (60 percent) and affordable elderly housing (50 percent), while others supported duplexes (55 percent) and condominiums (48 percent).

Preservation of open spaces, farmlands, groundwater resources, scenic views, wildlife habitats and other outdoor natural and recreational areas all received high scores.

Strongly-supported changes to the Village Center included construction of sidewalks (50 percent) and bike paths (54 percent), and establishing a farmers market (56.5 percent).

The surveyed said the three best ways to reach residents about town governmental and community matters were electronic newsletters sent through the internet (73 percent), town newsletters sent via mail (49.5 percent), and The Forecaster (44.4 percent).

Roy will send the survey results and other relevant materials to Camoin Associates, which North Yarmouth hired last month to conduct strategic economic development planning and also hammer out a revised Comprehensive Plan.

The agency will conduct interviews with some residents next month.

“When they’re done with everything, doing all they need to do, they’re going to give us a plan; a plan we can put into action,” Roy said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.