On June 28, nominations will open for GrowSmart Maine’s fourth annual statewide Smart Growth Award competition.

The nomination process has been designed to be simple and low barrier. The deadline to submit nominations is Tuesday, Aug. 3.

Smart growth is a common-sense concept that helps communities bring in and manage growth, while maintaining historic feel and natural beauty.  Now is the time for Mainers to adopt diverse actions that lead to smart growth – and these awards are real-life illustrations of the benefits it can bring and how it is preparing state communities for post-pandemic successes.

The awards showcase projects, plans and policies that support smart growth in all its diversity, whether it’s a plan for a walkable and inclusive village center, a sustainably built and affordable development, a successful new transit endeavor or a community-supported adaptation to climate change that safeguards the natural environment.

Past years’ Maine Smart Growth Awards recognized a tenant-driven housing co-op, mixed-use infill, community forest conservation, reinvention of a former manufacturing community and an individual achievement award for an influential revitalization champion.

As in the past, this year’s criteria will be grounded in the GrowSmart Maine’s principles of smart growth.

This year’s award recipients will be announced at the 2021 GrowSmart Maine Summit Nov. 4. The Summit is based at the Pepperell Mill in Biddeford, with satellite locations in communities across the state, and optional virtual attendance via Zoom.

“We love the opportunity we have every year to highlight and honor the great work being done across the state as people work to strengthen communities, protect open spaces, and build opportunity for all Mainers. These awards showcase what is possible when people involve a broad range of local stakeholders and neighbors, take a long-term view, and thoughtfully consider how the form and location of development can contribute to community life and increase the value of the places they serve,” notes GrowSmart Maine board chair Ben Smith of North Star Planning.

Paul Schumacher of Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission, Gwen Hilton, Community Planner from Starks, Maine and Chuck Lawton, former chief economist at Planning Decisions, will be returning for their second year of judging.

This year, GrowSmart also introduces Betsy Biemann of Coastal Enterprises Inc. and Rob Wood of The Nature Conservancy in Maine as judges.

More information and access to the nomination application can be found at bit.ly/MESmartGrowthAwards.

Award Criteria

Mixed use, compact design and placemaking: How does your submission support optimal use of limited downtown or village center land through mixing uses, compact building design or context-sensitive density? How does it make optimal use of existing public infrastructure?

How does it contribute to a community-valued built environment, whether in contemporary or historic contexts or through excellence in architecture and site design?

Housing opportunity and choice: How does your submission contribute to increasing housing options for persons of all ages, family and socio-economic status, including those with disabilities?

Transportation choice and walkable communities: How does your submission contribute to creating/enhancing walkable communities or reducing auto dependency by supporting access to other transportation options such as rideshare, transit or bicycling?

Preservation of open space: How does your submission reduce development pressure on open spaces such as agricultural, recreational, forested and/or environmentally sensitive lands?

Transformation: In what way is this submission transformational to the understanding and successful implementation of smart growth principles? How has it shaped people’s perceptions or changed the dynamics of the neighborhood?

How does this submission encourage open and balanced discussion on changing community needs while also helping community members to build confidence in their ability to successfully interact with each other and local and state government? How did this change support the community through the pandemic? How did the project consider and affect positive change for challenged or marginalized people within the community?

Climate change: How does this submission support Maine’s need to adapt to a changing climate?