Maine's Land Use Planning Commission has adopted zoning rules members say will provide opportunity for rural business to locate and grow in new areas of Aroostook County. 

The rule changes establish a rural business development zone that can be used by businesses and property owners to accommodate business development in 30 towns, townships and plantations in Aroostook County that are part of the unorganized and deorganized areas of the state.

The changes come through LUPC’s Community Guided Planning and Zoning initiative, which help regions identify their land use needs and plan for the future.

In Aroostook County, the Northern Maine Development Commission and a citizen steering committee worked with the LUPC to develop new zoning opportunities and improve the business climate. LUPC also maintains an office in Ashland.

LUPC Ashland Region

The rule changes developed in Aroostook County are the first to come out of the LUPC’s CGPZ initiative. They became effective on May 9.

Nick Livesay, director of LUPC, says efforts to improve the effectiveness of land use planning and provide for economic development opportunities in the unorganized and deorganized areas of Maine have partly focused on the need for more local guidance and more proactive planning.

The planning area in northern Maine spans 4,500 square miles and all of the Unorganized Territory in Aroostook County, It includes forest farms and agricultural land, natural resources, mineral deposits, wildlife habitat, and opportunities for residential and commercial development.

The initial planning began in 2013 and resulted in the proposal of a new Rural Business Development Subdistrict at the edge of existing development and in concentrated areas along portions of major transportation corridors.

The locations for development were selected to maintain rural character and avoid significant visual, natural resource, and fiscal impacts of unplanned growth.

Livesay says LUPC will continue to collaborate with partners in Aroostook County to plan for future land use needs. Local and regional partners on similar CGPZ projects are also underway in Franklin, Somerset, and Washington counties.