News Feature

Castine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 27, 2022
Comprehensive Planning Committee seeks input
Prepares online survey to garner opinions

by David Avery

The Castine Comprehensive Planning Committee is set to launch an online survey to get feedback from the community. The survey will be accessible through the town’s website and will be active for more than two months, according to Chair Kate Noel.

The survey is designed to reach as many people as possible about a wide range of subjects, Noel said.

The results will inform the committee where the public stands on a host of issues covered in a typical municipal comprehensive plan. Some of those topics include, population, economy, transportation, natural resources, housing and climate change. Survey questions will ask Castine residents the strength of their opinions related to these topics.

The survey is just one step in the process of drafting the plan. The committee of nine has been busy on other fronts as well, including interviewing stakeholders.

Stakeholders include businesses like restaurants, nonprofits like the Castine Historical Society, civic organizations like the Castine Fire Rescue Department and governmental bodies, like the Utility Board.

The nine members of the committee are: Jake Albon; Roberta Boczkiewicz, Secretary; Andrew Fisher; Kelly Ann Gualtieri; Kirk Langford; Peter Lewis; Kate Noel, Chair; Tony Politano and Zach Sawyer, Vice Chair.

The survey has been tested for about a week and will be ready to go live by Friday, January 28. The link will be available at the Castine town website, castine.me.us.

Reviewing the data

The survey will remain active for about two months, gathering data from all members of the community. Respondents are asked to submit just one survey.

Once the opinions are collated, they will be evaluated in light of objective information provided by the Hancock County Planning Commission, which is contracted to help with he project. HCPC is a nonprofit professional planning association of towns in the county.

Sometime later, subject matter experts will be brought in to help the committee decide what recommendations to make in writing the comprehensive plan.

Inclusive process

All meetings of the committee are public, including those involving subject matter experts, such as economists. The meetings are held on the second and the fourth Wednesday of each month at 5 p.m. at Emerson Hall. Community members can also join remotely.

A goal of the committee is to be inclusionary, Noel said. Providing the online survey is one way the committee will do that. If a member of the community does not have computer access, the committee has enlisted the help of town hall in administering paper copies of the survey. The committee’s meeting minutes will also be available at the town website, allowing people to follow the process. The committee is “hoping to bridge all interests in Castine,” Noel said.

Comprehensive plans are required of towns with zoning laws. Revising the town’s comprehensive plan every 10 years or so is required by the state. Doing so keeps the town eligible for state support and money. Castine is overdue for an update; the last plan was adopted in 2010.

Writing such a plan for Castine is expected to be challenging because “Castine is such a unique town in Hancock County and on the coast,” said Noel. It is a college town, a summer town, a working town, and a town with great schools so it’s a family town, too.

Ultimately, the plan will appear as a warrant article at Town Meeting in 2023 for voter approval. The plan will then be forwarded to the state for its blessing.

The committee can be reached at its own email address: ccpc@castine.me.us. Letters can be sent to the CCPC c/o Emerson Hall, P.O. Box 204, Castine.

The survey will be available at the town website as of January 28: castine.me.us.