Lincolnville is embarking on a six-month project to engage citizens and business owners in talking about planning for growth and its transportation network.

Three initial brainstorming sessions are scheduled for Jan. 27, Feb. 17 and March 24, all from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Lincolnville Central School.

The 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. “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?”

Some of the sessions will be led by Friends of Midcoast Maine, and coordinated by Midcoast Regional Planning Commission, which has been contracted by the town of Lincolnville. The funding for the sessions derives from a Gateway 1 $29,500 grant that the town received via a funding round from the Maine Department of Transportation. The grant will also be used to compare the town’s existing comprehensive plan with the objectives of a proposed Gateway 1 plan, and to determine if Lincolnville’s vision matches up with those of Gateway 1.

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.

Last March, Lincolnville selectmen agreed to pursue the 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.

Other towns, such as Camden and Waldoboro, also applied for grant money for different purposes, such as pedestrian improvements or visioning exercises.

The selectmen voted in March 2010 to establish the Gateway 1 Grant Oversight Committee, consisting of nine members, with the draft task of gathering information about how Lincolnville’s ordinances mesh with Gateway 1. But they did not appoint members, waiting instead to see if the grant was approved.

Now that the grant is forthcoming, some of it will be spent on these visioning sessions. The discussions will include topics such as historical growth patterns; possible new patterns of land use and development; and how to grow and develop without causing undesirable transportation issues.

“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 town is asking residents to attend the sessions, take a friend, get involved, and inform their neighbors.

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