Washington Aroostook Regional Plan for Sustainable Development Work Plan Narrative (please also see referenced files: Abstract, Work Plan (spreadsheet), GANTT timeline) Objectives The Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) and its partners will develop a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development within Aroostook & Washington counties, Maine. This large geographic region comprises over 9,200 square miles and is home to slightly more than 100,000 residents. The region is predominantly rural with a natural resource-‐based economy including forest products, agriculture, tourism, and marine resources. Healthcare, education and a growing information technology sector round out the other major employment industries. Creation of the Washington Aroostook Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (WARPSD) is a multi-‐year initiative with four fundamental objectives: • • • • Development of a sustainable growth plan for the Washington and Aroostook region, including implementation steps for state and local government, recommendations for private sector stakeholders, and establishing a solid foundation for the new Economic Development District. Large-scale public education to increase visibility and awareness of regional issues related to the economy, environment, and quality of life. Region-wide civic engagement in the planning process with special attention to populations not traditionally involved in planning processes. This will help scope, understand and adopt regional planning elements thereby improving the efficiency of local Comprehensive Planning in this largely rural area. Institutional capacity and relationship building throughout the region, linking technology and information to community decision making for current and future planning processes. Principles Several principles will guide the development of the Washington Aroostook Regional Plan for Sustainable Development. These key principles are: • A set of critical resources, opportunities, and challenges unites the people and communities of northeastern Maine. • We embrace the opportunities of growth and development, while seeking to maintain and enhance the beauty and uniqueness of the Washington Aroostook region and our individual communities. • Active public participation and open dialogue will yield a stronger regional plan, a constituency united behind implementation, and greater understanding, identification, and pursuit of common goals. • All planning and public policy decisions should be evaluated in terms of their impacts upon economy, environment, community, sustainability, and equity. Five Phase Structure The planning process will be conducted in five phases, each lasting approximately six months to one year. Although presented in a linear fashion below there will be significant overlap and/or iteration among each phase. The GANNT chart timeline depicts this interplay among the phases. They are designed to build public and stakeholder support over time while taking into account the region’s diverse cultures, viewpoints, and local interests. The five phases are: 1. Convening and Visioning 2. Analysis of Baseline Trends 3. Engagement/Feedback and Alternative Scenarios 4. Plan Assembly and Integration across Regional Plan Elements 5. Adoption and Implementation This logical flow begins with broad stakeholder engagement to yield visions that will guide the rest of the project. Planning and technical analysis will be conducted to identify current regional baseline data and trends as well as potential alternative future scenarios for the region. After draft regional planning elements and alternative scenarios are developed, they will be integrated and combined. Adoption and implementation steps will be developed to make that vision a reality over time. The following summarizes the phases of the planning process and their progression over time: Phase I. Convening and Visioning – Timeline July, 2011 – December, 2011 To launch the planning process the Washington Aroostook Planning Leadership Team will convene a region-‐wide meeting of the original consortium and the 40+ partner agencies that supported the original grant request. The first two tasks of the WARPSD project will be to articulate a regional vision and to initiate Working Groups of staff and stakeholders to create and inform each regional planning element. In the visioning phase, a Vision Leadership Team will be formed to engage a wide group of public and private leaders throughout the region in conversations to identify their vision for the future of the Washington Aroostook region. This will involve eliciting the major resources, opportunities, and challenges facing Washington and Aroostook Counties; the values people wish to preserve or attain as the region grows; and principles to guide how we think about and plan for that future. Visions for each of the two counties will be developed and ultimately combined into a single expansive vision to guide the regional planning process through its remaining stages. To assemble the Working Groups, the Leadership Team and consortium members will call upon themselves, the partners and the community members among their networks to join Working Groups specific to each of the 16 long term outcomes in the Work Plan. The Working Groups will convene at least once during Phase I to begin work on the regional planning elements. The following table provides an initial identification of Working Groups, some of which will be tasked with multiple outcomes. It also identifies the regional planning elements to be created for each of the long term outcomes. Decisions about whether Working Groups cover the task in each county or for both counties will be decided for each outcome at the initial meeting to launch the planning process. The responsibility of delivering the various tasks will be shared among the lead partners, namely NMDC; Washington County Council of Governments (WCCOG) and Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC). Additional contracted work will be performed by the Washington Hancock Community Agency (WHCA), the Aroostook Community Action Program (ACAP), Four Directions, Washington County:One Community (WC:OC), and the University of Maine at Machias GIS Service Center. As needed, outside interns, consultants and regional agencies will be contracted to help shape and identify strategies for the committees to consider while developing the plan. Throughout the work a concerted effort will go into outreach to communities not normally involved in the planning process. For instance underserved/underrepresented communities will include the Hispanic population, Native American population, and low and very low income households. These will be represented by Mano en Mano, Four Directions and other Tribal representation, and various low income advocacy organizations included in our list of partners. Regional Planning Element Several elements (see outcomes) with goal of reducing burden on rural municipalities to repeat data development in local Comprehensive Plans Regional Vision Regional Vision Transportation/Economic Development Transportation/Housing Housing Economic Development/Equity Infrastructure/Facilities Infrastructure/Facilities Economic Development Economic Development Economic Development/Energy Self-‐ Sufficiency Economic Development/Equity Infrastructure/Facilities Economic Development/Healthy Communities Outcomes Creation of shared elements in regional transportation, housing, water, energy, capital investment planning, healthy communities, and air quality plans tied to local comprehensive land use. Lead Entity(ies) (Working Groups) NMDC, WCCOG, SCEC (WARPSD Leadership Team) Increased participation and decision making in developing and implementing a long range vision for the region by populations traditionally marginalized in the public planning process. Regional and community initiatives that will reflect common direction based on a common vision. Development of a plan for an efficient transportation system for movement of goods, services and people within the region and providing access to global markets. WCCOG,NMDC (Transportation and Economic Development Infrastructure Working Group) Decrease in combined housing and transportation costs per WHCA, ACAP, household and increase proportion of low and very low income WCCOG,WC, NMDC households within a 30 minute transit commute of major (Housing and employment centers. Transportation Address housing needs within the region, especially those related to Working Group) increasing availability of affordable housing for low and moderately low income households. Increase the share of residential and commercial construction on NMDC, WCCOG underutilized infill development sites that encourage revitalization, (Brownfields Working while minimizing displacement in neighborhoods with significant Groups) disadvantaged populations. A comprehensive evaluation of likely climate change impacts to the NMDC, WCCOG region. (Climate Change and Infrastructure Resilience Working Groups) Modernize and develop additional capacity for electric and NMDC, SCEC communications infrastructure. (2 Working Groups: Broadband Infrastructure and Electrical Transmission) Alignment of federal planning and investment resources that mirror NMDC, SCEC, WCCOG the local and regional strategies for achieving sustainable (Regional Strategic communities. Sustainability Council) Increase in the median household income and stem population loss. Creation of new and expanded growth in renewable energy markets resulting in significant job growth and increased average wages. Reduce social and economic disparities for the low income and communities of color within the target region. A plan to provide safe drinking water to all residents of the region. Reduce the incidence of preventable chronic disease throughout the region and increase access/availability to local food and opportunities for exercise. NMDC, WCCOG (Water Infrastructure Working Group) WCCOG,WC, NMDC Healthy Communities Working Group Phase II. Analysis of Baseline Trends -‐ Timeline August, 2011 – May, 2012 In the second phase we will prepare baseline analyses for each regional planning element. This will include a compilation and review of existing plans, studies and documentation for each element. Current data sets for each regional planning element will also be assembled. Data will be analyzed in relation to the visions established in Phase I and to determine whether and how success can be measured in the Implementation Phase. Data analysis and baseline trends will include the following techniques and methods of assembly: • • • Asset mapping – building on Realize Maine initiatives GIS mapping o census/American Community Survey data will be depicted in thematic representations to illustrate geographic variation across the region as well as trends over time; o climate change and sea level rise scenarios will be run using LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data for Washington County and the SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes) model to predict storm surge and to model the impacts on coastal ecosystems, structures and infrastructure; o regional scenario modeling al alternative utilities and broadband installations and alternative energy development scenarios Research o Identification of regulatory barriers to reinvestment; o rural strategies for alternative options for transportation; o access to local food; o low carbon vehicles for civic and commercial applications; o training needs for workforce and business development Phase III. Engagement/Feedback and Alternative Scenarios -‐ Timeline March, 2012 – July 2013 As noted, there will be overlap among phases as inventories and analyses are completed and work products are vetted through civic engagement. This phase will provide data and research where useful but will not be data driven. Engagement and feedback will focus on perception. Questions will be phrased to discover: • • • • What we have in the region to support us economically, physically, socially, and culturally. Whether our assets are sufficient and what we need that is not present. What is important to us and whether our needs and desires fit the vision established in Phase I. What are the roadblocks that may prevent us from developing according to our vision. Different Working Groups will use different techniques to seek feedback on their work. The Leadership Team will encourage multiple forms and opportunities for input. These opportunities will include: • • • • Traditional community, sub-‐regional, County and large regional meetings. On-‐line outreach and survey tools o Dedicated web site for entire Planning process with interactive feedback opportunities o Establish social network pages, eg on Facebook and Twitter; use to drive users to web site and engagement activities o Use of Web based surveys eg. like Survey Monkey Paper based outreach among communities with minimal computer access eg. interviews and feedback at food pantries, within migrant and permanent agricultural communities, church organizations User and service provider surveys at various venues including: o Workforce training o Direct business support o Transit services • o Housing rehabilitation and relocation o Healthy communities events o Food pantries o Technical assistance trainings o Farmers markets and local foods buying clubs Presentation of GIS model outputs, gathering of feedback and re-‐running of models Phase IV. Plan Assembly and Integration across Regional Plan Elements -‐ Timeline September, 2012 – December, 2013 During Phase IV the Working Groups and primary staff will document the policy direction provided by the second and third phases. Policies and implementation measures will be compiled and refined to support the vision for a sustainable future. The outcomes and measures required by the HUD Logic Model will be incorporated into each Phase of the work flow. These outcomes will be articulated in each of the regional plan elements completed in Phase IV. While each Working Group will produce a strategy/plan for each regional planning element, the Leadership Team will ensure that the policies and implementation measures among and between the elements are mutually supportive. The leadership team will also ensure there is no conflict among Working Groups, sub-‐regions, or counties. Where there is conflict it will be explored for reconciliation or justified as necessary in terms of the different needs expressed by the community or region. There is already some integration across regional planning elements built into the work plan. Outcomes are established for housing and transportation, for transportation and economic development, for economic development and healthy communities, and for economic development and equity, to name a few. However this phase will go further and ensure that the various regional planning elements are integrated in support of the overall vision for the region. In this phase we will also ensure the following: • • Integration of policies between the two counties Allowance for, and capitalization of, sub-‐regional differences Phase V. Adoption and Implementation -‐ Timeline September, 2013 – January, 2014, Phase V is the final stage of the work plan and sets the stage for implementation over the short and long term. The Phase V work product will articulate the difference between adoption and endorsement of each regional planning element. Specifically there is a formal adoption process for local municipalities pursuant to Maine’s Growth Management Act (Title 30-‐A et seq. AKA Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulation Act). A stated objective of the Growth Management Act Law Change portion of this Work Plan is to streamline the process by which small rural communities can prepare local Comprehensive Plans. Adoption of a regional planning element prepared as part of this initiative would significantly help towns meet the requirements of the Growth Management Act. However, endorsement of the WARPSD by the Counties of Washington and Aroostook as well as the other consortium members would be a significant way of ensuring that its vision is realized. Part of the work in Phase V will include outreach to municipalities to explain the benefits of local adoption as they contemplate using the data and policy direction for local Comprehensive Plans, grant writing, or support for local and regional initiatives. All final work products will be posted on regional the WARPSD website and be available for download and review by municipalities and any interested party. If not completed in Phase IV, Phase V will focus on Capital Investment Planning (CIP) as a significant implementation measure. CIPs and other work products in Phase V will include identification of potential resources to implement the strategies in the overall plan. They will also identify the entities and collaborations needed to carry forward with implementation. Finally, Phase V will articulate the kinds of incentives that exist at the state and federal levels when the plan is adopted including: o Benefits stemming from the Preferred Sustainability Status o Technical support from state and federal agencies o Enhanced attractiveness to grant funding agencies and other donors o Reducing the technical, time and resource burden of preparing repetitive local documents Final monitoring using the HUD Logic Model will be provided to all involved federal agencies to implement recommendations of regional plan.