GOULDSBORO — Well-paying, year-round jobs, affordable, year-round housing, and greater local control over large-scale development are among the concerns of Gouldsboro residents. They are invited to voice their concerns and their vision for their city at a community gathering organized by the Global Plan Committee from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 17 at the Gouldsboro Recreation Center on Pond Road.
It’s been over a year since Prospect Harbor resident and planning board member Deborah Bisson and nine other citizens volunteered to review and update Gouldsboro’s comprehensive plan. Last updated in 2005, the 60-page document aims to guide land use planning policies, development projects and the conservation of the city’s natural and cultural resources. First adopted in 1993, the plan also aims to define a shared vision and values as well as long-term goals and strategies to achieve them.
“What do you think is the most important problem facing the city? What should be done about this? Your input is needed to move this important work forward,” reads the committee poster for the July 17 rally. Its volunteer members include the group’s vice president, Jim Guest, the last commanding officer of the former US naval base at Winter Harbor; John Korth, Sandy Gerlock, Lillian Strater, Barbara Bowen, Paul Stewart, Colt Neidhardt, Marianne Urquhart and Holly Duesenberry.
Started over a year ago, the committee has made it a priority to write and distribute a citywide survey. In late March, the “Global Plan 2022 Public Opening Survey” was broadcast throughout Gouldsboro. Respondents had the option of completing the detailed questionnaire in writing or online. No one had to identify themselves, but were asked personal questions to update Gouldsboro’s demographic profile. Age range, length of residence in town, employment status, personal plans to stay or move, and intention to buy, rent or develop real estate were queried. Views were solicited on the city’s economy and the importance of attracting new businesses and industries, retaining existing ones, and creating employment opportunities. Whether Gouldsboro should follow Bar Harbor’s lead and pass an ordinance limiting the number of short-term rentals and encouraging the construction of more affordable housing was among other issues.
Committee chair Deborah Bisson says the survey results will be available at Sunday’s meeting. The event is an opportunity for some year-round and seasonal residents, who may not have had the chance to complete the questionnaire, to make their point of view known.
“Share conversations with Comp Plan members as well as community leaders and experienced individuals on important topics such as the Gouldsboro shoreline, housing, budget, water resources, short-term rentals, l land use and more,” she said.
So far, the committee’s work has come amid controversy over American Aquafarms’ plan to convert the former Maine Fair Trade Lobster factory in Prospect Harbor into a base of operations for its proposed salmon farm in 120 acres at Frenchman Bay. The Norway-backed company’s ambitious plan for the long-dormant seafood processing facility and scale-up of its fish farm, where 66 million pounds of Atlantic salmon were to be farmed each year, was a wake-up call and stimulated a broad grassroots movement against the company’s plan. . Citywide opposition led to voters passing a six-month moratorium on fish farming development. Already renewed once, the freeze is due to expire in November. Meanwhile, American Aquafarms, whose incomplete lease applications for two Frenchman Bay sites were terminated by the Maine Department of Marine Resources in April, went ahead and acquired the former Maine Fair Trade Lobster complex on April 29.
Voter passage of the moratorium on finfish aquaculture development has given the Gouldsboro Planning Board limited time to list and strengthen its regulations regarding industrial-scale finfish aquaculture. . The council is focused on drafting a finfish aquaculture licensing ordinance intended to give the city greater authority over potential companies seeking to locate in Gouldsboro and use city resources. . This ordinance will be the subject of a public hearing and voters will have the final say on its adoption. The finalized order must also reflect and be consistent with the updated overall plan. To read Gouldsboro’s existing comprehensive plan, go to gouldsborotown.com.
“Think of it as a plan for the future,” Bisson says. “Put in place balanced and consistent policies and best practices to achieve what the majority of voters want to happen.”
That’s why permanent and seasonal residents are invited to come to Sunday’s rally to share their views on large-scale fish processing and other issues. Refreshments will be served. Families are also welcome to bring their children.