In an attempt to better understand a proposal that would formally link 21 Route 1 towns from Brunswick to Stockton Springs, Lincolnville selectmen are talking to the architects of Gateway 1 Monday evening, Jan. 31, and encourage citizens to attend the meeting.

The purpose: to review the Gateway 1 Interlocal Agreement, “what it says, doesn’t say, means and doesn’t mean,” according to the meeting notice issued by the town office. The meeting takes place at Lincolnville Central School from 6 to 8 p.m.

That agreement, distributed to Gateway 1 towns in December, has been approved so far by Rockland and Brunswick.

The towns that sign the agreement are agreeing to cooperatively manage the mobility, safety, and quality of life in the Route 1 corridor from Brunswick to Stockton Springs, including Route 90 between Warren and Rockport. If they sign, they also agree that they want to create a structural framework and a legal entity to assist in the cooperative management of the Route 1 corridor.

Facilitator Deb Burwell will lead the Lincolnville meeting, and it will begin with Will Brown, Lincolnville’s Gateway 1 Implementation Steering Committee member, providing an overview of the Gateway 1 project. Evan Richert, Maine’s former director of the state’s planning office and now consultant to Gateway 1, will describe the interlocal agreement.

Also attending will be Gateway 1 project administrator Stacy Benjamin; Chris Mann, Gateway 1 project manager for the Maine Department of Transportation; and Don White, Gateway 1 Implementation Steering Committee chairman.

Gateway 1, initiated by the DOT six years ago, has been defined as a collaborative effort among 21 towns that lie along Route 1 between Brunswick and Prospect. The goal of Gateway 1 is to plan regionally for land use and transportation and maintain the highway’s role as a regional arterial and economic lifeline while enhancing the quality of life. It is the project’s objective to weave the 21 communities into a Gateway 1 Corridor Coalition. Some of the proposed initiatives give the coalition authority to prioritize transportation improvements as proposed by the DOT, which owns the highway, as well as increase the funding pipeline for new sidewalks and street trees, or extend public sewer and water.

In March 2010, Lincolnville selectmen agreed to pursue a Gateway 1 planning grant, along with other Gateway 1 communities, all pursuing a piece of a $500,000 purse that was to be shared. Lincolnville applied for the funding, saying it would be used to analyze how the Gateway 1 goals, mission and expectations mesh with the town’s own comprehensive plan.

The town is also holding brainstorming sessions Feb. 17 and March 24, all from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Lincolnville Central School to talk about the future of land and transportation planning for the town. Those sessions represent a collaboration of the town selectmen and various committees, including the comprehensive plan review committee.

“We have a challenge,” the town said in its promotional poster for the brainstorming sessions. “Over the next 30 years, many new homes may be built in Lincolnville. Where will they go? Where should they be built? How will they impact roads in town? What businesses do we want to see move into Lincolnville? How will we ensure that new growth in Lincolnville is accommodated without changing life in negative ways? What changes do we want to see happen in Lincolnville?”

“Our goal is to involve as many citizens as possible in these discussions,” the town said. “We want Lincolnville’s people to help lead the town’s planning decisions.”

The Jan. 31 meeting focus will be the proposed Gateway 1 interlocal agreement, which was discussed at great length in November by the selectmen. In August, Gateway 1 project leaders, consisting of volunteers from all the 21 towns, produced a draft agreement, one of the first steps toward establishing a collaborative regional plan. The agreement contained both an unprecedented requirement that the DOT share budget authority with participating municipalities, and it included standards that the towns would have to incorporate into their land use ordinances.

Municipal leaders, including Lincolnville’s, grew skeptical after reading the proposed agreement, and raised concerns about the potential loss of local control, as well as possible contradictions between their own local development goals and those outlined in the action plan. Lincolnville subsequently submitted a list of questions and concerns compiled by various committee volunteers for the Gateway 1 Implementation Steering Committee.

A revised agreement is now before the towns, and on Jan. 24, the Brunswick Town Council voted unanimously to endorse the Gateway 1 Corridor Action Plan and approve the interlocal agreement that will form the Gateway 1 Corridor Coalition. Rockland was the first community to approve the agreement, and endorsing the action plan, in mid-December.

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