Kennebunk residents took part in a number of exercises, like this January 2019  event, that gathered thoughts and ideas as the Comprehensive Plan committee continued to craft a plan update. The Draft Comprehensive Plan is set for a public hearing Dec. 1. Courtesy Photo/Town of Kennebunk

KENNEBUNK – How will Kennebunk look in the future? How will the community balance Kennebunk’s “small town” feel as the population grows over time?

A group of residents including volunteers from various town committees, along with municipal staff, took on an update of the town’s Comprehensive Plan – a document that looks at the present day and provides guideposts for the future.

It is an exercise that has taken several years, and contains 19 chapters, examining an array of topics from agriculture and forestry to marine resources, population and demographics, the economy, historical and archeological matters, transportation, fiscal capability and capital improvement, land use and a host of others.

The draft comprehensive plan is ready for a public hearing, which has been set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1, online via the Zoom application, which can be found at https://www.kennebunkmaine.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12012021-2740

Kennebunk completed its first major Comprehensive Plan in 1991 in accordance with  Maine’s  Growth Management Act, according to Deputy Director of Community Development, Karen Winton. The vision was to retain small-town character, support the three villages, preserve the rural character agricultural uses and open space, protect natural resources, support the local business community and manage the growth so it was concentrated in designated areas where public services and infrastructure were already available.

According to the vision statement that makes up the first chapter of the 2021 draft plan, by 2031, the population of Kennebunk is estimated to be around 12,500, a 10-year increase of 7.8 percent over the 2021 population of about 11,500. The crafters foresee another 260 or more housing units. moving forward. Commercial growth, which comprised just 4.8 percent of properties in 2017, will likely only increase to 5 percent,  according to the document. The draft plan notes that the. 81.3 percent of land currently being used for residences will increase  to around 84 percent, reducing the 8.3 percent of vacant or undeveloped land to under 6 percent.

Comprehensive Plan Update Committee members believe more than half of the growth will be clustered in the York Street Mixed Residential and Commercial District, the Village Residential District, areas near Route 1 and other main roads radiating out from downtown, which, they wrote,  will help limit the tax bite associated with providing emergency services and snow plowing to new streets in further-out neighborhoods. They believe these measures will protect wetlands, watercourses and groundwater in the more rural districts.

The crafters say West Kennebunk Village Residential District will see growth as well, due to the availability of larger undeveloped parcels and its location near two schools and the entrance to the Maine Turnpike.

“To maintain the town’s look and feel in the future, it will be important to balance the location and aesthetics of new development, including needed affordable housing, with preservation of wetlands and open space,” said Janice Vance, a member of the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee, and lead writer of the draft plan.

Public input was sought throughout the update process using surveys, workshops, open houses, online discussion boards and targeted in-person outreach with various groups, said Winton. 

“The Public Hearing in December is the next step that the town must take prior to submitting the Plan to the Municipal Planning Assistance Program,” said Kennebunk Director of Community Development Chris Osterrieder. “The plan will be reviewed for consistency with Maine’s Growth Management Act, and the voters of the town will ultimately vote on acceptance of the plan in June of 2022.” 

The public is invited to view the Draft Comprehensive Plan chapter by chapter, or in its entirety on the town’s website, www.kennebunkmaine.us/compplan. Those without computer access may view the draft plan at the Community Development Department at town hall. 

Anyone wishing to submit comments ahead of the hearing may do so by emailing the Community Development Department at [email protected], or mail comments to Kennebunk Town Hall c/o of Community Development Department, 1 Summer St., Kennebunk, ME 04043 

The meeting will be available via Zoom televised on Public Access Channel 1302, and streamed live at www.townhallstreams.com. The hearing will be recorded and archived for future viewing, town officials said. 

  

  

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