The people of Standish, Maine recognize that their community is "… a treasure of open spaces and natural beauty," which is why the town created a unique comprehensive plan to steer growth and change while maintaining rural character.
More than 50 people convened in 2004 to create a new vision for the future of their town. Citizens produced a Vision Statement and a new Comprehensive Plan by 2006, which call for revitalization of the town center, business growth, and conservation of Standish’s open space and rural character. But realizing that vision has turned out to be harder than anyone thought.
GrowSmart Maine (GSM) and communities across the State were struggling with the same questions: What would it take to develop actionable, citizen-inspired growth management plans? What innovative planning tools and processes might help turn a vision into reality?
GrowSmart Maine and other partners came together to create the Maine Model Town project, which attempts to answer many of those questions by experimenting with new planning processes and tools in a single “model” community. The project will leave Standish with new, actionable, citizen-inspired plans and it will leave GrowSmart Maine with a host of lessons and demonstrated approaches that rural communities across the State can put to use.
The Model Town Project is facilitating citizen-led efforts to translate the values and vision expressed in the Plan into actions that will conserve Standish’s open space, protect its rural character, encourage sound growth, and revitalize the village of Standish Corner. Standish’s Village Implementation Committee and Open Space Committee held an initial public forum in June of 2008, at which they briefed residents on the planning efforts, facilitated small group discussions, and launched a series of planning efforts using CommunityViz, photosimulation, and other new techniques to develop alternative scenarios for Standish’s future.