Two Maine urban planning and development groups will receive a total of $2.4 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to support the creation of sustainable and community-integrated urban growth plans.

Of the $2.4 million, the Greater Portland Council of Governments will receive $1.6 million.

Neal Allen, the group’s executive director, said the money will help his group continue developing growth plans that will strengthen the community and economy, promote equity among area residents, improve transportation and encourage energy conservation.

Allen said the current growth trend in greater Portland, one of unchecked sprawl, “will result in a region that is no longer unique.”

The Greater Portland Council partnered with 26 other government and community organizations from Kittery to Brunswick in developing its grant application. Next, the group will spend three years soliciting community input and creating an implementation plan.

Caribou-based Northern Maine Development Commission also received an $800,000 grant. That group will use the money to create a regional development plan in partnership with other nonprofits in Washington and Aroostook counties.

Allen said the grant program is unique and refreshing because it is a collaboration between HUD, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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