Growth and Development
Image from Yarmouth Town Codes, Chapter 703
The issues of growth and development tend to evoke strong emotional responses in Yarmouth and in many communities. Human beings have a natural instinctual resistance to change. We've all experienced this at work, in the community, and at home. Two truths: things are always changing and change is hard.
We live in Yarmouth for various reasons; Maybe we grew up here with family roots that go back generations, maybe we moved here for the excellent schools, maybe we came from out of state for a job in the Portland region and discovered quaint little Yarmouth, maybe we retired here to be closer to our kids or grandchildren. One thing we have in common is that we've chosen to stay. This choice may be difficult for some due to the increasing cost of living or other factors. Some families may be here only for the short term and plan to move after the kids have graduated. Some have put down roots and never plan to leave (count me in that category).
Each of us has our own perceptions and opinions about change. Notions of "I wish things were like back in the good old days" and "I like things the way they are right now" and "I don't like this or that thing and I think it needs to change" compete within us all.
On the one hand, growth and development can create new opportunities, make necessary improvements, add to the local tax base, revitalize and renew. On the other hand, growth and development can change the character of the town, add economic pressures to the town and school budgets that increase property taxes, and feel "out of place". Like so many local issues, it's a balancing act. How do we preserve what is best about Yarmouth's past without becoming stagnant? How do we adapt to a changing world without losing a sense of who we are?
I believe we can only balance these competing notions by taking stock of what we have, listening to each other, understanding our different values, and doing the difficult work of understanding change and how it affects the community.
What does this mean from a policy perspective?
The roadmap for community is the Comprehensive Plan. As stated in the introduction to Yarmouth's Comp Plan, "The 2010 Comprehensive Plan is intended to serve as a guide for the decisions the Town will make about growth, development, and change over the coming decade." Yarmouth has achieved many of the recommended goals of the 2010 plan. A decade later, it is time for Yarmouth to take another look at itself and make a new comprehensive plan. This will be a community effort. I expect the process to look something like this:
A comprehensive plan committee will be formed,
There will be community meetings and forums for input and discussion,
The Planning Board will review and revise the plan along with the comp plan committee
The Town Council will receive, review, and revise the plan along with input from the public
The new Comprehensive Plan will be created and adopted by the Town Council during my next term. If you have a passion for Yarmouth and an interest in the town's future, I urge you to get involved with this planning.
For more information about Yarmouth's Comprehensive Plan and other plans and studies, visit the RESOURCES page of my website.