The State Planning Office identifies and assists with issues of long-term significance to the State, particularly those that involve multiple agencies. The State Planning Office also provides a wide range of technical and financial assistance to Maine communities.
Within SPO, the Maine Coastal Program and the Land Use Team have worked together to provide municipalities with the funding, technical expertise, model ordinances, and training they need to support growth and conserve valuable natural resources at the same time. The Maine Coastal Program is a partnership among local, regional, and state agencies for the purpose of managing Maine’s coastal resources for the public benefit. The Land Use Team provides technical assistance to municipalities, advises the legislature, coordinates with other state agencies, and, in general, promotes sound land use planning. The Land Use Team regularly assists with local, regional and statewide planning by working with comprehensive planning committees, town officials, regional planning commissions, and the statewide Beginning with Habitat program.
It’s very important that these Coastal and Land Use programs remain as an independent agency. They perform cross-cutting functions that supersede the single missions of other agencies – such as the Departments of Economic and Community Development, Agriculture, Conservation, and Marine Resources – and they need to be able to draw on the resources of multiple agencies to present a balanced approach to land use. If these programs were housed in any one of these other agencies, the goals of the coastal and land use planning programs could become too narrow.
Because the Coastal Program and Land Use Team have worked so closely together – sharing strategies and solutions to challenges and problems – there are many efficiencies to be retained by keeping these programs together as opposed to distributing them amongst multiple agencies. We support the proposed amendment that retains these programs as well as the Maine Downtown Center, Floodplain Mapping, and Code Enforcement Officer Training together as an independent agency.
The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee has not yet made a decision on the future of the State Planning Office and its existing programs.