Completed residential areas at The Downs in Scarborough. File photo

Scarborough Town Council held a public hearing on the proposed amendments to the Growth Management Ordinance at its May 17 meeting.

The Growth Management Ordinance was created in 2001 to manage residential growth in Scarborough by limiting the number of construction permits awarded per year.  In September, councilors Jon Anderson and Nick McGee were asked by the council to work on amendments to the ordinance. A first reading was done on the proposed amendments on May 17. The council decided to hold an extended process so the public could understand and interact with the recommendations.

According to the town, the purpose of the ordinance amendments are “to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of Scarborough through placing reasonable and appropriate limitations on residential development in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan.”

The proposed ordinance would create three areas for allocation of permits. The divisions are based on zoning and Comprehensive Plan designation. Area 1 has a designated number of growth permits given annually, and Areas 2 and 3 have a designated number for every three years.

“Essentially, the new amendments really does keep the growth rate at essentially the state required minimum while creating some room for affordable and workforce housing where we established a pool,” said Anderson, the council chair. “We’ve also set three different areas targeted for growth. Area one, which is essentially our rural area, is limited to 25 units per year. And really the intent there is to preserve our rural and residential areas of Scarborough which represents the majority of our landmass.

“Area 2 is really our high growth areas in both Dunstan and Oak Hill outside of the CDP (census-designated place). That is really intended to be another high growth area where we’ve added a greater pace of that growth to be directed into those areas. Area 3 is the CDP zone which is a specific zone that in our comp plan we have designated as a key growth area and where we’ve also aligned an even greater rate of growth per year for that area. So again, the intent was to try and direct growth to our high growth areas as outlined in our Comprehensive Plan and make sure we are preserving as much of the green space outside of our targeted high growth areas.”


The amendments would also change the name from Growth Management Ordinance to Rate of Growth Ordinance. The ordinance would go into effect July 1, 2023.

A few speakers from the public gave their opinions. These included gratitude for the council’s work as well as questioning the amount of exemptions, the “explosive” rate of growth, and how the Growth Management Ordinance connects with The Downs.

“Any growth management ordinance you guys will work up is only as good as a future council has the guts to say no when things change,” said Suzanne Foley-Ferguson, Scarborough resident and chair of the Parks and Conservation Land Board. She said that in the past the town has carried over unused growth permits from year to year, resulting in very high amounts of growth in a short period of time. “Carrying over permits from year to year is not the way to manage growth,” she said. “If the growth doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t happen. We don’t have to worry about it.”

A workshop will be held on the ordinance at the council’s June 7 meeting.

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