| by Anne Maurice |
Scott Hastings, Town Planner, began the committee’s July meeting with an introduction of the first drafted chapter of the Comprehensive Plan which covers population and housing. The population data shows a steady progression of growth over the last decade. Hastings stated that New Gloucester does have available land to meet the population projections. However, New Gloucester has a lot of land in conservation programs and the potential available land for housing is not necessarily of the same high quality as in the past.
The discussion moved towards housing and Hastings reported that in 2015, the Town had 263 vacant housing stock with about half being seasonal. Ben Tettlebaum, committee member, asked about short-term rentals and Airbnb. There are no official records on Airbnb activity in town. Members want to include some data and projections in the Plan.
Hastings mentioned that state guidelines for Comprehensive Plans require the inclusion of affordable housing needs. The Committee discussed how to maintain the town’s rural character while including areas for affordable housing and increased density.
Tettlebaum and Julie Fralich, committee member, both want to include sustainable energy and building solutions in the Plan. Larger housing stock conversion to multiple-family housing was brought up as a solution for more housing and a means to repurpose large dwellings in light of smaller family sizes. Fire/Rescue Chief Toby Martin cautioned about converting large, older type dwellings which will need sprinkler systems and possibly other safety considerations.
Once again the conversation turned to senior housing. What level of housing is needed? Do we need assisted living facilities? How many services will be needed by seniors? All these questions will need to be discussed at a future meeting.
Hastings will now take the Committee’s comments and suggestions, revise the chapter and resend it to the Committee for further review. The next meeting is scheduled for August 8 at the New Gloucester Meeting House when the Committee will review another draft chapter, possibly on transportation or agriculture. For more information and to sign up for ongoing email updates on the comprehensive plan work contact the Town Planner, Scott Hastings at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207)926-4126 ext 4.
Video of full July 11 meeting is available here. Materials and videos for this and other meetings can be found on the NG website: newgloucester.com.