TOWN OF WHITEFIELD

 

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2005

 

 

 


 

 

 

Table of Contents

                                                                                   

 

 

Section                                                                                       page

 

1.   Introduction……………………………………………………….. 3

2.   History of Whitefield…………………………………….. ……….5

3.   A Vision for Whitefield…………………………………………….9

4.   Goals and Policies……………………………………………….10

5.   Implementation Strategies………………………………………18

 

Appendix A:  Inventories

      

      A-I.   Population and Demographics……………………………,30

      A-2.   Land Use…………………………………………………....37

      A-3.   Local Economy……………………………………………..41

      A-4.   Housing……………………………………………………...44

      A-5.   Transportation………………………………………………48

      A-6.   Public Services and Facilities……………………………..58

      A-7.   Recreation Resources……………………………………..73

      A-8.   Cultural Resources…………………………………………77

      A-9.   Historic and Archaeological Resources………………….80

      A-10. Natural Resources………………………………………….84

      A-11. Fiscal Capacity……………………………………………...92

 

 

Appendix B:  Maps

    

       B-1    Buildings in Whitefield: 1893-2001

       B-2    Churches, Cemeteries, Historic Buildings & Sites

       B-3    Soils

       B-4    Landcover      

       B-5    Shoreland Zones

       B-6    Surface and Groundwater Issues         

       B-7    Wetlands and Related Habitat & Deer Wintering Areas 

       B-8    Elevation, Natural Features, Conserved Properties &Town-Owned Land

       B-9    MNAP Exemplary Communities, Rare Animal Occurrences

       B-10  Proposed “Village” & Business Development Preferred Use Areas

 

 

 

 

1. Introduction

Whitefield is the fastest growing town in Lincoln County. With a population of 2451 projected for 2005—an 18% increase since 1990—residents should consider what they would like their town to be in the future.

 

Whitefield’s last town-approved comprehensive plan dates from 1977. The present plan  updates data and documents the numerous changes, with the issues they raise, that have taken place in recent years, and proposes policies and strategies to address them.

 

The Whitefield Comprehensive Planning Committee was authorized by the Town’s selectmen, and modest funding was approved at the 2003 Town Meeting. The committee was charged with taking stock (inventory) of town resources, issues, and trends in order to develop a current comprehensive plan that would be presented to the State and the residents of the town for approval in 2004/2005. The Committee chair was Charlene Donahue. Active committee members included Charles Acker, Alice Davis, David Dixon, Erik Ekholm, Libby Harmon, Herb Hartman, Pat Jennings, Ann Marie Maguire, Tony Marple, Lucy Martin, Sue McKeen (vice-chair), Marie Sacks, and Lester Sheaffer Jr. (secretary).

 

The purpose of the Comprehensive Planning Committee’s work, in which many neighboring towns are presently engaged, is to develop a plan for guiding change within the community for the next ten to twenty years.

 

A survey sent by the committee to 1000 Whitefield residents in the summer of 2002 indicated that a majority of the 220 respondents favored maintaining the town’s “rural character” in the face of rapidly growing population and increased development, both residential and commercial.

 

A bus tour taken by the planning committee in the fall of 2003 reacquainted members with the many beautiful stretches of woods and open fields that  are an essential component of the town’s “rural character” and make Whitefield a special place to live. At the same time, the numerous new homes that had sprouted along byways and back roads testified to the attractiveness of the town to a rapidly growing number of new residents.

 

The planning committee held meetings on the third Thursday of every month; hired facilitator Erik Hellsted from Planning Decisions of South Portland to advise and assist in the preparation of materials; and received invaluable assistance from the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association, which prepared numerous maps, and the Lincoln County Planner, Bob Faunce, who prepared the transportation section. A newsletter was sent to residents in March 2004; presentations on the progress of the planning process and the plan itself were made to the selectmen on several occasions and at the 2003 and 2004 Town Meetings; a “visioning” session for residents was held in April, 2004; portions of the developing plan were sent electronically to a mailing list of interested parties; and extensive outreach efforts were made to inform residents of the plan’s findings and solicit review and comment on the inventories and the committee’s proposed goals and strategies. “Neighborhood” discussion meetings were held in Coopers Mills and Kings Mills in July 2005; a public hearing was held on August 29, 2005 at the Town House. The developing draft plan and related information were available on the Internet and copies were also available at the Town Office. This process resulted in revisions to the plan intended to more accurately describe Whitefield’s situation and reflect the sentiment of the community, before the plan was presented to the for approval by the Town’s residents.

 

A comprehensive plan is only the first step of the planning process. In some cases, this plan recommends the establishment of several new local committees to implement the policies, gathering new information and refining actions to make them responsive to the needs and wishes of the community. Community involvement and fine- tuning of the plan are essential if it is to serve as an effective framework for local decisions.        

 

While the plan recommends changes in ordinances that, if approved by the town’s citizens, could affect what persons may do with their properties, the plan essentially stresses voluntary compliance and the use of incentives that would both benefit landowners and facilitate wise land use. The plan also calls for greater flexibility in ordinances governing land use to encourage open space preservation and village development. Any change to an existing ordinance or a new ordinance will need to be approved at Town Meeting.

 

The bulk of the committee’s work, and a great deal of information about Whitefield, will be found in Appendix A, which contains the inventories of the eleven subject areas considered relevant to the town and its residents. Appendix B contains the maps cited in the inventories. Section 2 presents a history of the town; Section 3 elements of a vision of a future Whitefield; Section 4 the town’s goals for each of the inventory subject areas, a discussion of the findings of the inventories contained in the Appendix, and a listing of the issues and implications raised by the findings; and Section 5 presents the strategies by which the town will address the issues presented in the preceding section.

 

 


2.  History of Whitefield

(This is an abstract of A Brief History of Whitefield 1760-2004,  available through the Whitefield Historical Society.)

The Town of Whitefield, incorporated on June 19, 1809 as the 177th town in the Province of Maine, began as the western half of a frontier settlement known as Ballstown Plantation. The eastern half of the plantation had split off in 1807 as the Town of Jefferson. The land was owned by the Kennebec Purchase Company, one of a group of speculative land companies from Boston that laid claim to vast tracts of land in Maine in the eighteenth century.

 

Although the forests of Ballstown were logged for years, and white pine trees suitable for masts for the King’s Navy were marked, settlement did not commence in earnest until after the end of the Indian Wars in 1760. Most settlers were not wealthy; they were looking only to establish homesteads for themselves and their children. Some settlers obtained legitimate grants from the proprietors, but many did not get legal title to their lands until after the courts had resolved difficulties with the Proprietors in 1815.

 

The political organization of the Ballstown Plantation is somewhat obscure. Apparently never incorporated under Massachusetts law, plantation meetings were not recorded until 1791. The plantation was named for Samuel Ball, who, with his son John, moved north from Alna in about 1770. Samuel and John mined limestone and ran a limestone kiln on the road to Weary Pond until about 1781 when they left town. John served in the Revolutionary War.

 

Not everyone came simply to establish a homestead. Some saw the wilderness as a place for gaining wealth from land speculation, lumber and mill operations. Mill sites on the Sheepscot River were actively sought out, not only by would-be settlers, but by investors, some of whom never lived here. The present three village areas of Kings Mills, North Whitefield, and Coopers Mills originated at the sites of the most important mills. 

 

Great Falls (Kings Mills) was the first important mill location. A sawmill was erected in about 1774 by Jeremiah Norris. In the 1780s it became the property of Abraham Choate and his sons who added a grist mill. Benjamin King and his sons acquired the mills in 1801.The grist mill was used to generate electricity for the Ford brick house next to the mill until electric power came to Whitefield in the 1930s. The grist mill was destroyed by Hurricane Edna in 1954.

 

At Clary Lake, once Pleasant Pond, a mill complex built after 1791 provided a center for the North Whitefield settlement. At one time there were four mills at this site. At least two mills on the Sheepscot River at the foot of Grand Army Hill were operating in the early 1800s. Later a clothing mill, a carding mill and a shingle mill operated on this site. North Whitefield was known as Turner’s Corner for many years. 

 

The other main mill site was at Coopers Mills, north of where the road now crosses the river. The first mills, one on each side of the river, were built about 1804. The mill on the east side of the river was acquired by Jesse Cooper of Newcastle whose son, Leonard, ran the mill and from whom the name of the village is derived.

 

Besides the Ball lime kiln on the Weary Pond Road, other early industries were granite mining and brick making from clay gathered from the river. A brickyard was located on the banks of the Sheepscot River in Kings Mills at the intersection of Head Tide and East River roads. Granite was used as the foundation stone for many houses. The Jewett Quarry located southeast of Weary Pond operated from 1850 to 1914. Blacksmith shops were scattered about town. Peter King, the son of the mill owner, was an ax grinder and had a shop near the mills. Gold was discovered on a farm on the Town House Road about 1881. Although a mine was dug and ore analyzed, it never provided the expected return and was abandoned. Gravel mining, originally carried out in small pits dug by hand, blossomed into a major industry, especially after World War II.

 

From earliest settlement and for at least 100 years, Kings Mills Village was the political center of the town. From Abraham Choate, Jr., in 1791 to Lore H. Ford in 1934, the town leadership always included a Choate/King/Ford family member. The political clout of the mill owners is apparent in the ruling of 1805 that no dam could ever be built upriver which blocked logs from reaching Kings Mills. There had been two mills about a mile upriver, the Turner/Preble mills dating to about 1775, which burned in 1803. These mills were never rebuilt after this ruling.

 

Their distance from the seat of government in Kings Mills prompted the residents of the Hunts Meadow and the Coopers Mills settlements to petition the state of Massachusetts in 1819 to redraw the northern boundary of Whitefield to make those settlements part of Malta (Windsor). The petition was opposed by the town and denied by the state. Again in 1843 when the Town House was built halfway between North Whitefield and Kings Mills, the Coopers Mills and Hunts Meadow people felt excluded from town meeting and voting. This building was relocated in 1989 to a site near the present school. It sits atop a new foundation where the Town Office is located. The 1843 structure now houses the Whitefield Historical Society. Voting is still held in the old Town House, although the town meeting has been held in the Whitefield Elementary School in North Whitefield for many years.

 

Many of our early settlers, especially around Kings Mills, could trace their roots to the Newburyport area where they or their parents had been touched by the preaching of the Reverend George Whitefield, an English evangelical Calvinistic minister who preached throughout the colonies from the 1730s to 1770. When the town was incorporated in 1809, it is likely that this group of settlers were instrumental in choosing a name that would honor George Whitefield. Although the First Baptist congregation built a meeting house in 1804, the location is not certain, probably at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Head Tide Road... It burned in 1868.

 

While the majority of Ballstown settlers came primarily from a Protestant and English heritage, Irish Catholic immigrants began arriving here about 1800. About 1820 Rev. Denis Ryan came to serve the Whitefield Irish community. The first Catholic Church, a wooden structure, was built in 1822 and named St. Denis to commemorate the French priests who first served the Catholic population of Maine. In the 1850s the present brick bell tower replaced the original wooden one. St. Denis Church is the only structure in Whitefield listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In about 1873, a convent for the Sisters of Mercy was built across the street from the church. The nuns also ran a school, St. Denis Academy, and later an orphanage. The convent burned in 1922 and was rebuilt as the present Parish Hall.

 

About 115 Revolutionary War veterans were living in Ballstown by 1800. In the War of 1812 nearly 100 Whitefield residents served. This war had a lasting effect on Whitefield’s economy because it devastated the maritime activity of the port of Wiscasset through which Whitefield lumber and wood products were shipped to overseas markets. Whitefield sent 117 men to the Civil War. The Spanish American War found several adventurous Whitefield men volunteering for action. Whitefield has also contributed its share of citizens to World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and now the Iraq War. A Memorial was erected in Kings Mills in front of the Whitefield Union Church after World War II that listed all those who had served and died in that war. In 1993, a Memorial Park was established behind the Town House that honors the veterans of all wars.

 

While social interactions in Whitefield have traditionally revolved around church, neighborhood and farm interests, after the Civil War, benevolent societies aimed at improving local life sprang up. The Union veterans of the Civil War established an organization known as the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). In about 1869, about 40 Whitefield veterans formed the Erskine Post #24 of the GAR. The GAR Hall in North Whitefield was completed in 1885. It also housed a free high school and has been important in the social and intellectual life of the town. The Whitefield Grange #101 was organized in Kings Mills in 1875. The Arlington Grange #528, was chartered in 1914 and met in North Whitefield in the GAR Hall, which it acquired in 1919. The hall is now known as the Arlington Grange Hall. In 1969,the Whitefield Grange merged with the Arlington Grange which continues to have suppers and programs today.

 

In 1899, the Whitefield Fish and Game Club was established as a conservation society pledged to care for the fish and game in the river and forests. The club joined forces with the Whitefield Grange to build the Whitefield Union Hall in Kings Mills in 1900. The Fish and Game Club was famous for its annual game suppers. It continued in operation until 1972.

 

Women also carried out benevolent activities. The Helping Hand Society at the Whitefield Union Church, organized in 1909, raised money by ice cream socials and “fancy” work (crocheting, hand-sewn articles, embroidery, etc.) The Willing Workers Club, organized in the Plains section of town in 1904 by eight women, raised enough money by sewing quilts and aprons to start a Sunday School, and eventually built a two-story chapel. After the fire departments were organized in the 1940s, the Women’s Auxiliaries held suppers and fairs to raise money.

 

The Gov. Kavanaugh Council, Knights of Columbus, was founded in 1909 at St. Denis Church. In 1956 a hall was built just below the church on Grand Army Road where game suppers were held. It was moved in 1998 to North Whitefield Village where it was remodeled into the Country Farm Restaurant. The Lions Club was organized in 1954 and is located in a remodeled schoolhouse in Coopers Mills. It provides a scholarship to Whitefield students and contributes to many community projects. The latest organization is the group known as the Senior Men who have generously responded to requests for help. 

 

There are also three volunteer fire departments, one for each village. The North Whitefield Fire Volunteer Department was organized in 1944, the Kings Mills Department in 1947. After a devastating fire which wiped out the general store and post office in North Whitefield Village in 1948, a volunteer fire department was also organized in Coopers Mills in the 1950s.  

 

The health needs of the community were met by home remedies and common sense. There are no doctors listed in the Ballstown records. In the 19th  and early 20th centuries, doctors were available from Gardiner, Jefferson, Richmond and Alna, as well as in Whitefield. Among the beloved country doctors were A. R. G. Smith and Joseph E. Odiorne. In 1923, a dedicated local nurse, Katherine Morse, began a hospital at her home on the Town House Road, known as the Cottage Hospital. It was mainly for obstetrics and minor injuries and occasionally housed a few patients with mental illness. An addition was built for an operating (labor) room. In the 1990s the addition was detached and moved back from the road to house the Sheepscot Brewery, which is now located on Hollywood Boulevard. 

 

Perhaps nothing demonstrates the influence of outside forces on Whitefield’s evolution more than the changes in population over the years since the earliest settlement, shown in the graph below. After about 60 years of rapid in-migration, Whitefield experienced a decline in population which continued for nearly 100 years. The Erie Canal and the mechanization of farm equipment favored large western farms and drove farmers to leave their farms all over New England. Some Whitefield farmers went west; others left for industrial centers where they could earn a living in the textile and paper mills or shoe factories. Even the Gold Rush claimed a few. The Whitefield farmers who remained survived by adding a variety of activities that brought in needed cash: wood products, such as barrels and shingles; leather tanning and shoe making. This diversification brought about a change in rural architecture, from free-standing houses and barns to the more efficient connected farmhouses that accommodated a variety of activities.

 

The arrival of the Narrow Gauge Railroad (the Wiscasset and Quebec, then the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington) in 1894 provided a welcome boon to the Whitefield economy. Lumber, milk and other farm products, barrels and eels trapped in the river were shipped to Wiscasset and then on to larger markets. Although heavily supported by the town, the railroad was always in financial trouble. The finishing blow was a derailment just below Whitefield station in Kings Mills in 1933. Although the tracks were removed to pay debtors, the route of the train through Whitefield is still visible from the surviving rail bed, now used by snowmobilers. 

 

During the depression and after World War II, a slow trickle of people began to return to Whitefield. Some became dairy or poultry farmers. The broiler industry collapsed in the 1970s. Only several dairy farms exist today.

The sharp rise in population which began in 1970 coincides with the movement of “back-to-the-land” city dwellers, who began buying and restoring Whitefield’s abandoned farmhouses or who built houses on large tracts of former farm or forest land. Many of these were non-farmers whose work took them out of town but who maintained some relationship with the land. Some became sustenance farmers and developed crafts as a way of earning a living. The population rise over the last decade or so coincides with the continuing decline of farming and rapidly rising land values which have encouraged people with large holdings to sell their land. More and more farmland is being sold off in small parcels and fewer and fewer people earn their living in Whitefield. Social patterns are no longer dependent on neighborhood or farm interests. Not since the beginning of settlement, when the aboriginal forest was cut down and land cleared for farming, has there been such a potential for profound changes in the physical and social landscape of the town.

 

3.  ELEMENTS OF A VISION FOR WHITEFIELD

                                                                       

Residents who responded to queries about why they moved to Whitefield, or what they wanted to change as little as possible, cited maintaining the community’s “rural character as the future brings continued population growth, social change, and development. “Rural character” is not defined in this plan, and may have different meanings for different people, whether they are descendants of original settlers, multi-generational residents, or newcomers. The traditional economic bases of “rural character”, agriculture and forestry, have declined in importance. Whitefield has more houses, more cultural and socio-economic diversity, more traffic, and higher property taxes, to name a few changes. Ironically “rural character”, in Whitefield’s case, also means affordable property, in an attractive and friendly “rural” setting, the very reasons for the rapid increase in population and social change that most threaten to change the community. Where “rural character” once, years ago, may have meant stability and a great degree of individual independence with few restrictions on land use, change has occurred. As population and development increase controls are increasingly necessary to protect the health and safety of the community’s citizens, and to attempt to conserve those elements that the citizens value.

 

The elements listed below represent the Comprehensive Planning Committee members’ impressions of the most salient features of Whitefield’s “rural character”.

 

·  A sense of community fostered through a broad understanding of and respect for the town’s history, its diverse population; support for the elementary school and its programs, community suppers and fund raising; the Town Meeting; restoration of old structures; locally-produced crafts, artwork,  and food; places where people can gather such as Uncas Farm, the Union Hall, the school;

·  neighborliness;

·  farms and farmlands, with barns and silos, gardens, fields of corn and hay, glimpses of horses, cows, sheep, llamas;

·  concentrated residential and commercial development in traditional “village” areas: North Whitefield, Coopers Mills, and along Route 17;

·  unpolluted lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams, habitats for various species and accessible to the public for recreation;

·  scenic views of open space —fields and forest—and residential and commercial development sensitive to the value of such open space to the community;

·  woods harboring songbirds, game birds, predators and large and small game--deer, moose, fox, raccoon;

·  opportunities for various dispersed and organized forms of outdoor recreation—hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, walking, bicycling, horseback riding, snowmobiling, boating, golf, swimming, soccer, baseball;

·  country roads, some unpaved, with undeveloped corridors, light traffic, low speeds;

·  a variety of small businesses, many of which are home-based, that provide employment and income to residents of Whitefield without significant negative impact on its scenic, rural, and environmental qualities.

·  an efficient and effective municipal government mindful of the need for limited property taxation, meeting the needs of residents.

4. Goals and Policies

 

Whitefield’s comprehensive planning effort has produced extensive “inventories” of eleven subject areas relative to the future of the town and its residents: population and demographics; land use; local economy; housing; transportation; public services and facilities; recreational resources; cultural resources; historic and archeological resources; natural resources; and fiscal capacity. These inventories with their figures and tables contain a significant amount of information about the town and comprise Appendix A. The maps cited in the inventories comprise Appendix B.

 

This section contains the goal(s) for each inventory subject, presents a condensed discussion of the findings and issues, and proposes policies under which the issues will be addressed. Strategies intended to implement the policies appear in the next section.

1.                                Population and Demographics

Goal: Anticipate the rapid population growth of the community and develop policies and strategies that best serve this increasing population while preserving the community's rural, scenic, and natural qualities.

 

Discussion: As the fastest growing town in Lincoln County, Whitefield's population has doubled since 1970. A continuing high rate of growth accompanied by pressures for residential and service development is projected for the future [see Whitefield maps showing past and projected residential structures, Appendix B]. A decrease in family size accentuates the need for additional dwellings. As younger families move to the community in search of inexpensive housing, there will be an increase in the need for expanded school facilities. With the aging of baby boomers, there has been a dramatic increase in the 45-65 year-old group, suggesting a need for housing and facilities suitable for senior citizens in the coming decades.  

 

Our survey has shown that high among the values which our citizens desire to conserve are Whitefield's rural character, scenic vistas, and natural resources. Our expanding population will bring increasing pressures for development with the threats of urban sprawl, increasing traffic, impairment of scenic vistas and natural resources, and demands upon the town for greater services.

 

Policy: Policies and implementation strategies to respond to this general goal are detailed in the sections that follow.

2.                                Land Use

Goal: Provide for orderly development while preserving open space, retaining forestry and agriculture, and protecting critical resources such as aquifers and environmentally sensitive areas.

 

Discussion: With significant residential growth, driven by relatively affordable land and low taxes, the rural character of Whitefield is being altered. Most residential development tends to occur along roadways, but as the corridors become lined with houses, subdivisions on interior lands will encroach upon important wildlife habitat. To date there are relatively few subdivisions, but given projected growth rates, improved roads and available land, more subdivisions are likely. Currently, there is a minimum lot size requirement of 1.5 acres along with road frontage requirements. At present, Whitefield's Subdivision Ordinance does not make allowances for alternative housing patterns that would promote open space, conserve rural character, and allow flexibility of development.

 

Gravel mining is a significant economic activity in Whitefield. Compliance with standards for reclamation and buffer zones has not been consistent. 

 

A large aquifer, a major source of drinking water and vulnerable to pollution, runs through Whitefield from north to south under sand and gravel deposits.

 

There is no definition for types of commercial development that differentiates between high and low impact on the environment or residential values; such development can occur practically anywhere in the town.

 

Whitefield requires property owners to file a Notice to Build form prior to construction. This notice, approved by the Planning Board and the Code Enforcement Officer can assist the Board of Selectmen in assessing property in a timely and equitable manner and to monitor what type of development is occurring. Compliance with the requirement to file a NTB is estimated to be about 75%. 

 

Policies:

1.   The Town shall endeavor to manage land use and development through incentives, tax increment financing (TIF), and voluntary cooperation, without the use of zoning.

 

2.  The Town shall make use of ordinances where necessary to promote orderly development, protect aquifers, prevent pollution of air and water, and ensure public safety.

 

3.  The Town shall designate “preferred use areas” for purposes such as village development, business development, and protection of natural resources.

 

[“Preferred use areas” are not districts designated for legal restrictions on land use, but are rather areas for which voluntary cooperation, incentives, grants, etc., might be sought to achieve the goals of the comprehensive plan.]

3.                                Local Economy

Goal: Encourage economic growth and opportunity consistent with the town's rural character and scenic values.

 

Discussion: Despite Whitefield's rural setting, we are becoming a suburb of Augusta and the Mid-Coast area, with accompanying changes in employment profiles and commuting patterns. Once a farming community, the number of self-sustaining farms has diminished dramatically. Residential development will continue to compete with natural resource-based activities, and transportation corridors will become more heavily used by commuters.

 

Whitefield has a large number of gravel deposits, a resource being extracted for use in construction throughout the region. Gravel transportation can accelerate the degradation of the town's transportation network.

 

Whitefield has a number of small and home-based businesses, including garden farms, home professional businesses, and seasonal occupations that are critical to the livelihood of the town.

 

Some areas are more suitable for business development than others. There is currently some clustering of businesses in Coopers Mills and North Whitefield. Except for limitations imposed by Shoreland Zoning there is little to preclude any type of business from locating anywhere in town.

 

While Whitefield receives economic development representation from the Lincoln County Economic Development Office, our town has no economic development strategy, local program, or organization to promote economic activity in the community.

 

Policies:

1.   The Town shall encourage the continuation of rural and resource-based activities such as forestry and farming.

 

2.  The Town shall create a comprehensive approach to economic development which complements the town's rural character.

 

3.   The Town shall attract and encourage appropriate business development.

4.                                Housing

Goal: Encourage the development of new housing and fuller use of existing housing to accommodate a growing and aging population

 

Discussion: While Lincoln County's growth rate from 1990 to 2000 in single family dwellings was 19%, Whitefield's increase in single family homes was 33%. Affordability of housing appears to be a significant factor driving rapid population growth. Twenty-four percent of new dwellings were mobile homes. While there was an increase in population, household size declined, indicating a further requirement for single-family homes in the future. The town's aging population will result in an increasing demand for senior, assisted and multifamily living situations.

 

At present there are no building codes to ensure the safety of new dwellings.

 

Policies:

1.   The Town shall create greater flexibility in lot size requirements in order to preserve open space while minimizing sprawl, and permitting village and multi-unit development.

 

2.   The Town shall encourage full utilization of existing housing such as use of accessory units.

 

3.   The Town shall encourage the development of housing suitable for senior citizens such as multi-unit development and assisted living facilities.

 

4.   The Town shall ensure that new housing meets the minimum requirements for safety.

5.                                Transportation

Goal: Improve the safety, efficiency, and scenic character of the town's transportation network.

 

Discussion: Increased development will lead to increased traffic on Whitefield's roadways, and road improvements may be associated with increased speed.  The Town lacks standards for new and existing roads and bridges that both ensure quality and safety and protect scenic values. The Town does not have a long-range plan for bridge replacement and roadway improvement.

 

Policies:

1.   The Town shall continue to improve the quality of its transportation network.

 

2.   The Town shall strive to improve the safety and usability of our roads and corridors.

 

3.   The Town shall strive to retain the scenic character of our transportation network.

6.                                Public Services and Facilities

Goal: Provide services and facilities that are effective, efficient, and adequate to meet the needs of the citizens of Whitefield.

 

Discussion: The existing town office is inadequate for the amount of business currently  conducted, and service demands will increase with the expanding population. There is no adequate and comfortable space for meetings of boards and commissions. Space and security provisions for town records are inadequate for future needs. There is no long-range plan for financing, maintaining, and/or replacing town facilities. There is no capital improvement fund setting aside money for future capital improvements.

 

The town water supply was found to contain bacteria and may need to be treated or another source may need to be developed. Requirements for trash disposal may increase as the population grows.

 

The Coopers Mills Dam is in poor condition and hinders fish passage.

 

The year 2009 is the Bicentennial Year for Whitefield; a warrant article was passed in 2004 to start a fund to pay for a celebration.

 

The school requires capital improvements and additional space may be required in the future to meet anticipated population growth.

 

There is no transportation for secondary school students, a factor in school dropout.

 

Policies:

1.  The Town shall plan for the long-term maintenance, development, or replacement of facilities.

 

2.  The Town shall safeguard the Sheepscot River as a major resource for Atlantic salmon preservation and for recreation.

 

3.  The Town shall ensure the safety of the town water supply.

 

4.   The Town shall support the Whitefield Bicentennial Celebration.

 

Fire and Rescue Services:

Discussion: From north to south the town of Whitefield is15 miles long. This extensive range is served by three separate fire associations. Converting to a single, municipal department would lead to administrative efficiencies, but would add a problem of timely emergency response. Moreover, consolidation could add significantly to the tax burden due to the loss of private fund-raising efforts currently carried out separately by each association.

 

While there is a First Responder unit, the Town does not have its own rescue service. 

 

The Town does not have a long-range plan for apparatus and equipment replacement.

 

Personal and business insurance costs of Whitefield citizens could be lower with a better Insurance Standards Organization (ISO) rating. 

 

The major problems facing the volunteer fire associations are the aging of volunteers and the difficulties in recruiting, training, and retaining personnel.

 

Policies:

1.   The Town shall continue to support three local fire associations, as well as a rescue service.

 

2.  For the fire services, the Town shall develop a long-range plan for equipment  replacement, maintenance of services, and personnel replacement.

7.                                Recreational Resources

Goal: Enhance recreational opportunities for Whitefield residents.

 

Discussion: As the town grows and becomes more suburban, the demand for higher- intensity recreational areas (ball fields, gymnasiums, etc.) will likely increase. Existing resources are limited and could be overwhelmed. Lower-intensity recreation areas (for hiking, hunting, etc.) tend to be privately-owned. Projected growth and changing community values (contrary to a strong tradition of public access to private land) could reduce available private land or access to resources in the future. Access points to the Sheepscot River are limited and lack appropriate parking. Walking, biking, and running on town roads are becoming more dangerous as volume and speed of traffic increases. ATVs are often unwelcome on private land.

 

Snowmobile registration revenues are used by the local snowmobile club to maintain trails without consideration of other recreational opportunities that could be supported.

 

 

Policies:

1.   The Town shall improve its ability to respond to changing recreation needs.

 

2.   The cost and funding of facilities shall be determined on an individual project basis.

 

3.   The Town shall increase the number and improve the quality of recreational facilities that it provides.

 

4.    The Town shall support efforts to keep as much private land open and accessible to the public as is possible.

8.                                Cultural Resources

Goal: Ensure that Whitefield residents have access to cultural events, programs, and facilities.

 

Discussion: The Whitefield Elementary School is the only public facility generally available for group activities. The lack of a public library limits access to library services, including computer access and training. There are no public programs targeting the needs of our growing number of senior citizens.

 

Policies:

1.  The Town shall provide adequate and appropriate space for cultural activities.

 

2.   The Town shall support the efforts of private organizations that provide cultural programs and opportunities to Whitefield residents.

9.                                Historic and Archaeological Resources

Goal: Ensure the appreciation of our historical heritage by Whitefield residents through education, and preservation of and access to historical features such as houses, cemeteries, and records.

 

Discussion: Whitefield, with an interesting colonial and post-colonial past, has a large number of historically significant structures, and records. Residents tend to have a limited appreciation of local history. The only structure presently on the National Register of Historic Places is the St. Denis church. There is no survey of other buildings in the community that might qualify for the National Register of Historical Places. Several important cemeteries are in disrepair; there is no plan for prioritizing and funding restoration of town-owned cemeteries. In addition there are potential archaeological sites that have not been investigated. Historical town records are subject to deterioration because of insufficient storage facilities. 

 

Policies:

1.   The Town shall preserve important historic sites and archaeological resources.

 

2.   Whitefield shall seek to restore the Town’s  cemeteries.

 

3.   The Town shall ensure the preservation of historic records.

10.                            Natural Resources

Goal: Preserve for future generations the quality of our town's natural resources, including water bodies, aquifers, wetlands, wildlife habitat, and agricultural and forest resources.

 

Discussion: Rapidly changing land use, resulting from population pressures and development, could threaten our natural resources including water, fragile soils, and wildlife. Water quality impacts the genetically distinct and naturally reproducing Atlantic salmon population of the Sheepscot River. (The Atlantic salmon is on the federal Endangered Species list.) We have a 300 foot shoreland buffer zone, but compliance with this in the future is not ensured. As road corridor sites for development become scarce, development into the backland will become more common, intruding on large blocks of wildlife habitat. The town's aquifers are vulnerable to pollution that could make drinking water unsafe. While restrictions apply at present, there is no means under existing ordinances to prohibit permanent structures on sites that could be inundated by a 100-year flood. Whitefield does not belong to the Federal Flood Insurance Program.

 

Policies:

 

1.  The Town shall develop plans to guide protection of our natural resources.

 

2.   The Town shall enforce existing ordinances established for the protection of natural resources and modify them as needed.

 

3.   The Town shall identify and preserve areas with important wildlife habitat.

 

4.   The Town shall update or expand development performance standards with regard to environmental protection.

 

5.    The Town shall support and advance agriculture and forestry.

11.                            Fiscal Capacity

Goal: Maintain the Town's fiscal soundness and provide a stable, fair and equitable level of funding for education and municipal services.

 

Discussion: Some forms of State aid are based on valuation. Whitefield's valuation is substantially less than the State’s valuation which is based on current property sales information. Given the same level of municipal income and expenditures, increased local valuation would result in a lower tax (mill) rate.

 

Noncompliance with the Town’s required Notice to Build hampers fair and timely adjustment of valuations.

 

Policies:

1.   The Town shall ensure that Whitefield's real estate valuation is fair, timely, and exceeds the State’s minimum assessment ratio of 70%.

 

2.   The Town shall ensure that the provision of municipal and education services is as cost-efficient as possible.

 


 

5. Implementation Strategies

The following strategies are designed to implement the policies that address the issues for each Inventory subject as summarized in the preceding chapter and stated more fully in Appendix A.

1. Population and Demographics

Policies: Policies and implementation strategies to respond to this general goal are detailed in the sections that follow.

2. Land Use

Policies:

 

1. The town shall endeavor to manage land use and development through incentives, tax increment financing (TIF), and voluntary cooperation, without the use of zoning.

 

Strategies:

 

A. The Planning Board should propose amendments to ordinances pertaining to minimum lot size, road frontage, and subdivisions to permit cluster development and multi-family units, i.e., smaller lot sizes and/or greater density in a portion of the tract in exchange for permanent dedication of a portion of the land for open space.  Seek town approval in 2007.

 

B. The Planning Board will consider the recommendations of the Conservation Commission and propose amendments to ordinances to allow for voluntary transfer or purchase of development rights so that environmentally sensitive areas can be protected in exchange for smaller lot size/higher density or other features beneficial to the developer at development locations. Seek town approval in 2007/2008.

 

C. The Planning Board, following the recommendations of the Economic Development Committee, should draft a business development ordinance to identify incentives such as smaller lot size, tax abatement, or technical assistance in buffering, etc., in exchange for businesses locating in areas designated as most appropriate for business development; create appropriate formal definitions of different types of businesses including home-based, commercial activities, and development in view of anticipated significant impacts on traffic levels or environmental and scenic values; and establish "good neighbor" performance standards such as buffering, setback, noise, lighting, and parking requirements for businesses to minimize adverse impact on the town’s rural character. Seek town approval in 2008.

 

 

 

2. The Town shall make use of ordinances where necessary to promote orderly development, protect aquifers, prevent pollution of air and water and ensure public safety.

 

           Strategies:

 

A. The Planning Board should ensure that the Town’s requirement to file a Notice to Build form is widely understood and is fully complied with by residents, and that the Selectmen are made aware of approved NTBs to permit fair and timely evaluation of new construction for assessment purposes and to monitor rates and types of development. Ongoing.

 

B. The Planning Board should review all land use ordinances to ensure that: (1) performance standards are adequate to serve this policy; and (2) definitions are clear, precise, and easily understood. If amendments are needed seek town approval in 2007 or concurrently with other amendments to ordinances.

 

C. The Conservation Committee should propose to the Planning Board performance standards for aquifer protection. Seek town approval in 2008.

 

D. The Code Enforcement Officer should enforce all ordinances fully and consistently. Ongoing oversight and support by Selectmen and Planning Board.

 

3. The Town shall designate “preferred use areas” for purposes such as village development, business development, and protection of natural resources

 

Strategies:

 

A. The  Conservation Committee should identify and recommend (2007) to the Planning Board those areas of the town that are environmentally sensitive, or have unique rural or scenic qualities that should have the highest priority for conservation or protection. Seek town approval in 2008, if needed.

 

B. The Economic Development Committee should recommend (2007) to the Planning Board for designation “business development” overlay areas in which incentives for locating certain types of business would be present. Seek town approval in 2008.

 

C. The Planning Board should define and propose the reduction of the minimum lot size requirements in “village” areas. Seek town approval in 2008.

3. Local Economy

Policies:

 

1. The Town shall encourage the continuation of home-based businesses and rural and resource-based economic activities such as forestry and farming.

 

Strategies:

 

A. The Board of Assessors (Selectmen) should support and encourage landowners to preserve use of their open land by means of the Farmland Current Use, Tree Growth Current Use, and Open Space Current Use Tax Programs by increasing awareness of the tax incentives these programs include. Ongoing.

 

 

2. The town shall create a comprehensive approach to economic development that complements the town's rural character.

 

Strategies:

 

A. The Selectmen should appoint an Economic Development Committee to: develop a plan for: encouraging appropriate business development; ensuring a healthy future for farming and forestry; and identifying benefits and costs of different industries and propose strategies for minimizing costs. Seek town approval in 2006.

 

 

3.   The Town shall attract and encourage appropriate business development.

 

Strategies:

 

A. The Selectmen, on advice from the Economic Development Committee, should create a formal Tax Increment Financing (TIF) policy as well as other economic development incentives to help attract and locate appropriate businesses. Seek town approval in 2008.

 

B. The Planning Board should encourage home-based business where there will be minimal impact on road traffic and environmental and scenic values, and should develop strategies to encourage the location of commercial enterprises in “preferred use” districts when there will be significant impact on traffic as well as on environmental and scenic values. Seek town approval in 2008.

4. Housing

Policies:

 

1. The Town shall create greater flexibility in lot size requirements in order to preserve open space and minimize sprawl, permit village and multi-unit development, and encourage fuller use of existing structures.

 

Strategies:

 

Refer to the strategies in Section 2, Land Use.

 

 

2. The Town shall encourage the development of housing suitable for senior citizens such as multi-unit development and assisted living facilities.

 

Strategy:

 

The Planning Board should review ordinances to ensure that they allow construction of assisted-living and multi-family living situations suitable for senior citizens. If they do not, amendments should be proposed. Seek town approval in 2008, if necessary.

5. Transportation

Policies:

 

1. The Town shall continue to improve the quality of its transportation network

 

Strategies:

 

A. The Selectmen should appoint a Transportation Advisory Committee to conduct research and survey local opinion, and advise them and the Road Commissioner on implementation of these strategies. 2006

 

B. The Transportation Advisory Committee should recommend to the Selectmen a maintenance and improvement plan that monitors the condition of roads, bridges, and culverts and schedules improvements so that these costs have minimal impact on the town’s budget. 2007.

 

C. The Selectmen should adopt minimum standards for acceptance of new roads (sight distances for driveways, drainage provisions, width standards) to avoid financial liability in upgrades, and develop criteria for when and if gravel roads should be paved. 2007.

 

D. The Selectmen should work with neighboring communities to resolve regional transportation issues. Ongoing.

 

E. The Transportation Advisory Committee should explore methods to encourage car-pooling and other measures to reduce commuter traffic. 2007.

 

2. The Town shall strive to improve the safety and usability of our roads and corridors.

 

Strategies: 

 

A. The Road Commissioner should monitor the accident rates at intersections and other locations and recommend to the Selectmen improvement of those considered most dangerous. Ongoing

 

B. The Selectmen, on advice of the Road Commissioner and the Transportation Advisory Committee, should consider guidelines for curb cuts and other safety-related issues and adopt standards, perhaps similar to those of the State Department of Transportation. 2007.

 

C. In conjunction with road improvements, the Selectmen should seek to expand the shoulders of important roads to allow safe pedestrian and bicycle use. Ongoing.

 

D. As roads improvements are made, the Selectmen should provide limited parking within the right-of-way as needed (e.g., for canoe access to the Sheepscot River). Ongoing.

 

3. The town shall strive to retain the scenic character of our transportation network.

 

            Strategy:

 

                        The Transportation Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the Conservation Committee and other groups, should identify scenic vistas of high value, trees, and other features that should be preserved, and monitor proposed road improvements to ensure that they do not significantly change the rural character of the town’s transportation corridors. Ongoing.

 

6. Public Services and Facilities

 

Policies:

 

1. The Town shall plan for the maintenance, development, or replacement of facilities over the long range.

 

            Strategies

 

A. The Selectmen should create a planning process to examine the need for new facilities (town office, School Superintendent's office, community center, fire station, water supply) and appropriate use(s) for the property recently acquired by the town adjacent to the location of the current town office. 2007

 

B. The Selectmen should review and refine this pan to create a long-range capital improvement plan for the maintenance and/or replacement of facilities. 2007.

 

C. Table 6.7 presents a draft major capital improvement plan. The Selectmen should review and refine such a plan, create a capital improvement fund, and set aside funds for capital improvements as they become necessary. Seek town approval 2007.

 

D. The Town office staff, in conjunction with the Whitefield Historical Society, should continue the town records restoration project, which should include an inventory of records, provision for safe and secure storage facilities, and records and minutes of meetings backup. Ongoing.

 

E. The Selectmen should continue the town’s participation in the Lincoln County Recycling Program. Ongoing.

 

F. The Selectmen should explore ways to collaborate with other towns to reduce costs while improving the quality of goods and services. Ongoing.

 

2. The Town shall safeguard the Sheepscot River as a major resource for Atlantic salmon preservation and for recreation.

 

            Strategy:

 

A. The Selectmen should support the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association in its effort to protect the river system. Ongoing.

 

B. The Conservation Committee should work with the SVCA, other committees, and groups to study the environmental costs and benefits of removal of the Coopers Mills Dam. 2007.

 

3. The Town shall ensure the safety of the town water supply.

 

            Strategy:

 

The Selectmen, with the School Committee, should monitor the bacterial count of the school well and, if needed, consider acquiring a treatment system or finding another source of water. Ongoing.

 

4. The Selectmen shall continue town support for the Whitefield Bicentennial Celebration

 

            Strategy:

 

The Selectmen should continue to support contributions of town funds to the fund for the 2009 celebration. Seek town support for funding 2006, 2007, 2008.

 

5. The School Committee shall continue to work with the Selectmen, Budget Committee, and School Union to contain the escalating costs of operating the school.

 

            Strategies:

 

The School Committee, Selectmen, and School Union should contain costs   by:

 

(1) Establishing a long-range plan for capital improvements, replacement of buses, technological, office and classroom equipment, furnishings, books and supplies; 2007

 

(2) Using bidding, locked-in pricing, and regional cooperative efforts to reduce costs. Ongoing.            

 

6.  The Town shall continue to support three local fire associations, as well as a rescue service.

 

            Strategies:

 

A. The Selectmen should support the three local fire associations in their fundraising activities. Ongoing.

 

B. The Selectmen, in conjunction with officers of the fire associations, should study the feasibility of a new fire/rescue station as part of a new town office complex (see Strategy 6.1.A). 2007.

 

C. The Selectmen should support funding for the Whitefield Rescue Service. Ongoing.

 

2. The Town shall develop a long-range plan for equipment replacement, maintenance of services, and adequate personnel for the fire services.

 

Strategies:

 

A. The fire departments should identify current deficiencies in the fire services and initiate processes to upgrade existing capabilities to achieve a lower ISO rating. 2007.

 

B. The fire associations should explore and recommend additional benefits and other measures to recruit new fire and rescue personnel and ensure that their training meets state and federal requirements. Ongoing.

7. Recreational Resources

Policies:

 

1. The Town shall improve its ability to respond to the changing recreational needs of its citizens.

 

Strategies:

 

A. The Selectmen should appoint a Recreation Committee to monitor recreation resources, ensure their maintenance, and facilitate discussion with recreational organizations and landowners. 2006.

 

B. The Recreation Committee should develop a recreation plan, with recommendations to the Selectmen. 2007.

 

2. The cost and funding of facilities shall be determined on an individual project basis. Ongoing.

 

3. The Town shall increase the number and improve the quality of recreational facilities that it provides.

 

            Strategies:

 

A. The Recreation Committee should seek funding for recreational facility development and programs from fees, grants, donations, etc. Ongoing.

 

B. The Recreation Committee should work with the Lions Club and collaborate with others to ensure the recreational plan for the town property on Route 17, the Harold B. Olsen Recreational Area, complements the changing recreational needs of the town. 2006,2007.

 

C. The town property on Townhouse Road should be used as a starting point for developing, in conjunction with private landowners, a multi-use trail network.

 

D. The Recreation Committee should seek ways to better utilize our network of lakes, ponds, and rivers by providing access and parks. Ongoing.

 

E. The Selectmen should support the Town’s acquisition of public access rights at the western end of Clary Lake for waterfowl hunting, fishing, and skating. Ongoing.

           

4. The Town shall encourage keeping as much private land open and accessible to the public as possible.

 

            Strategies:

 

A. The Recreation Committee should encourage private landowners to make land accessible by developing, in conjunction with landowners, ground rules for public access and conditions for continued availability, educational materials, etc., and should coordinate with the Whitefield Athletic Association, Lions Club, Snowmobile Club, and others to expand formal access, provide signage and post ground rules and conditions of use. Ongoing.

 

8. Cultural Resources

 

Policies:

 

1.   The Town shall provide adequate and appropriate space for cultural activities.

 

           Strategy:

 

The Selectmen should study the feasibility of a town center that would include the town office, a community center, and other facilities for cultural and recreational activities (see Strategy 6.1.A). 2007.

 

 2. The Town shall support the efforts of private organizations that provide cultural programs and opportunities to Whitefield residents.

 

            Strategy:

 

The Selectmen should provide space in Town mailings to residents for cultural organizations to describe their activities. Ongoing.

9. Historic and Archaeological Resources

Policies:

 

1. The town shall preserve important historic sites and archaeological resources.

 

            Strategies:

 

The Selectmen should continue to support the Whitefield Historical Society in its efforts to implement these policies. The Society, in conjunction with appropriate experts, should supervise the identification, mapping, evaluation, marking and cataloging of historical sites, and education of landowners and the general public about these sites through programs and publications. Activities would include:           

 

(1). A survey to identify structures and sites of historic significance; 2007

 

(2). Education of current landowners about the historic significance of their properties and encouragement to protect historic features; Ongoing.

 

(3). In conjunction with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, investigation of potential archeological sites on the shores of Clary Lake and the Sheepscot River. Ongoing.

 

2. Whitefield shall seek to restore Town-owned cemeteries.

 

            Strategy:

 

The Selectmen should earmark a percentage of cemetery trust funds to restore old, town-owned cemeteries and encourage volunteer efforts to support the project. Ongoing.

           

3. The Town shall ensure the preservation of its historic records.

 

            Strategies: 

 

A.  See Strategy 6.1.D.

 

B.. The Historical Society should develop guidelines for public use of historic records to be recommended to the Selectmen. 2006.

10. Natural Resources

Policies:

1. The Town shall develop plans to guide protection of our natural resources.

 

            Strategies:

 

A. The Selectmen should appoint a Conservation Committee to monitor and  advocate for protection of natural resources. Ongoing.

 

B. The Conservation Committee should propose a Natural Resources Protection Plan to the Selectmen, seek grants, coordinate with other organizations, and develop educational opportunities for promoting the wise use of natural resources, and advise the Selectmen and Planning Board. Ongoing.

 

2.  The Town shall enforce existing ordinances established to ensure the protection of natural resources and modify them as needed.

 

            Strategies:

 

A.  See Section 2, Land Use, Strategy 2.2.B.

 

3.  The town shall identify and preserve areas with important wildlife habitat.

          

          Strategies:

 

A.  The Conservation Committee should identify the most important wildlife habitat areas as wildlife “preferred use” areas; work with landowners to seek voluntary protection of important wildlife areas; and together with the Selectmen explore strategies such as grants for purchase and transfer of development rights to preserve important habitat areas. Ongoing

 

4.  The Town shall update or expand development performance standards with regard to environmental protection.

 

            Strategies:

 

A.  See Section 2, Land Use, Strategies 2. A-D and 3. A, B.

 

B The Planning Board should consider a Flood Plain Ordinance and prepare recommendations for or against joining a National Flood Insurance Program. 2007.

 

5. The Town shall support and advance agriculture and forestry.

 

            Strategies:  See Section 3, Local Economy.

11. Fiscal Capacity

Policies:

 

1.  The Town shall ensure that Whitefield's real estate valuation is fair, timely, and within State conditions.

 

            Strategies:

 

A.  The Selectmen (Board of Assessors) should review the assessment process and ensure timely and equitable valuation that at least exceeds the State’s minimum

assessment ratio of 70%. Ongoing

 

B.  The Selectmen should ensure compliance with the Town’s required Notice to Build and be made aware by the Planning Board of NTBs as they are processed. (see Strategy 2.2.A) Ongoing

 

2.  The Town shall ensure that the provision of municipal and education services is as cost-efficient as possible.

 

            Strategies:

 

A.  Selectmen, School Committee, and Budget Committee should continue their efforts to efficiently manage budgets. Ongoing.

 

B.  The Selectmen should study how current and projected development patterns are likely to impact the town's budgets for education and general services and make necessary adjustments in planning (See Public Services and Facilities Section). Ongoing

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX A:  INVENTORIES

 

                                                                                                                     Page

 

       A-1.  Population and Demographics…………………..30

 

       A-2.  Land Use………………………………………….. 37

 

       A-3.  Local Economy…………………………………….41

 

       A-4.  Housing……………………………………………..44

 

       A-5.  Transportation………………………………………48

 

       A-6.  Public Facilities……………………………………..58

 

       A-7.  Recreation Resources……………………………..72

 

       A-8.  Cultural Resources…………………………………76

      

       A-9.  Historic and Archaeological Resources………….79

 

       A-10. Natural Resources…………………………………83

 

       A-11. Fiscal Capacity……………………………………..91

 


A-1.  Population and Demographics

Population Change

In the last 30 years, our town's population has doubled in size, from 1,131 residents in 1970 to a new high of 2,273 in 2000.

 

Figure 1.1.  Whitefield’s Historical Population Change


Source: Maine State Planning Office

 

The prior peak of population was in the1840’s when more than 2,150 people lived in town.  A period of steady decline bottomed out in the 1920’s when the town was less than half its original size  (see the Historical Section for a discussion of possible reasons).    This was followed by steady, moderate increase until the mid-70's when a period of rapid population growth began.  Between 1990 and 2000 Whitefield grew by 18%.  (See Table 1.1)  Alna and Windsor grew at similar rates and Jefferson also had significant growth, but less than ours.  Pittston and Chelsea grew modestly, while the population of the nearest urban area, Augusta, declined by 13%.  In the 1990's Whitefield grew faster than Lincoln County as a whole (11%);  the State grew by only 4%. 

 

Table 1.1. Population Change, 1970 - 2000

 

1970

1980

1990

2000

% Change, 1990 – 2000

Whitefield

1,131

1,606

1,932

2,273

18%

Alna

315

425

573

675

18%

Windsor

1,097

1,702

1,895

2,204

16%

Jefferson

1,242

1,616

2,111

2,388

13%

Lincoln County

20,537

25,691

30,357

33,616

11%

Maine

992,048

1,124,660

1,227,928

1,274,923

4%

Pittston

 

2,267

2,440

2,548

4%

Chelsea

2,095

2,522

2,483

2,559

3%

Augusta

 

21,819

21,325

18,560

-13%

Source: US Census

 

The Maine State Planning Office projects that Whitefield’s population will reach 2,451 residents in 2005, 2,590 residents in 2010, and 2,685 residents in 2015  (Figure 1.2).  While this rate is slightly lower than our experience in the last three decades, it still represents a significant amount of change.

 


Figure 1.2.  Projected Population Change

Source: US Census, Maine State Planning Office

 

This projected growth rate is higher than surrounding communities, the county, and the State as a whole.  Moreover, there are reasons to believe that even these projections may underestimate actual growth;  SPO uses a formula applicable to the State in general, while there are specific factors such as the new Augusta bridge connecting to I-95 and the Wiscasset By-Pass that may contribute to the rate of growth.  In any event, as a result of continuing population increase, the town will be under pressure to expand services and facilities.

 

Household Change

In 2000, the number of households in Whitefield reached 849, an increase of 34% since 1990.  This rate of growth is significantly larger than surrounding communities, Lincoln County, and the State as a whole (Table 1.2.).

 

            Table 1.2.  Household Change, 1980 - 2000

 

1980

1990

2000

% Change 1990 – 2000

Whitefield

492

635

849

34%

Windsor

553

685

846

24%

Jefferson

542

760

945

24%

Pittston

712

840

1,010

20%

Lincoln County

9,494

11,889

14,158

19%

Alna

not available

226

266

18%

Chelsea

690

831

959

15%

Maine

395,184

465,729

518,200

11%

Augusta

8,405

8,889

8,565

-3.6%

            Source: US Census

While our town's population  grew by 18%, the number of households increased by 34%.  This means that there is a significant decrease in the average size of households.   There were 3.18 persons per household in 1980 and 2.62 persons per household in 2000.  This decrease for Whitefield matches State and nation-wide trends (Figure 1.3.), attributed to increasing life expectancy, postponement of child-rearing by young families and increase in the number of single-parent households.

 


Figure 1.3.  Average Household Size

 

This trend towards smaller households is expected to continue and has significant implications for the future of the community.  If we project that our average household size will reach 2.30 persons by 2015, 144 new households would be required for the present number of 2,273 residents.  The 412 additional residents projected by the State Planning Office would occupy 180  more new households.  In other words, to house the present population plus the projected 412 additional residents by 2015, we will have to add 324 new households.  To meet this demand at present, it is probable that some old houses are being converted into 2- or 3-unit buildings. 

 

Age

Whitefield residents are growing older.  Between 1990 and 2000, the town's median age increased from 33.6 years to 37.8 years.  The number of children under 20 years of age remained about the same, the number of residents 65 and older has increased slightly, but the number of residents between 45 and 64 has roughly doubled.  This is consistent with national trends, as the "baby boom" generation becomes middle aged.

 

Despite the aging population, in 2000 Whitefield was considerably younger than the county and State:  Lincoln county median age: 42.6;  State of Maine median age:  38.6 years.   There are two factors which will probably keep Whitefield's age below the county and State averages:

 

·       our town is attractive to younger couples and families looking to buy reasonably-priced land within commuting distance from Bath-Brunswick, the Midcoast, and Augusta; and

·       the lack of elderly housing or services  makes Whitefield less attractive to those in the highest age brackets.

 

 

 


Figure 1.4.  Age of Residents

 

 

Occupation

 In 2000, 1,170 residents over 15 years old reported being employed in various occupations.   Nearly 40% of these were employed in managerial or professional positions.  Approximately 20% of these were employed in the traditional blue-collar trades (operators, fabricators, repair, laborers, precision production, etc.).  More than 15% were employed in service-oriented jobs.  Less than three percent were employed in forestry, farming, and fishing.   This occupational pattern reflects the national trend away from an agricultural-rural base of employment.

 

Income

In 1999, Whitefield's median  household income was $38,477.  This was about the same median as for Lincoln County as a whole, and slightly more than that of the State. 

 


Figure 1.5.  Whitefield Household Income, 1999

 

Source: US Census

 

 

Sources of income for Whitefield households differed somewhat  from those for the County and State.  More than three-quarters of Whitefield households had wage/salary income, compared with 70% for the County.  Significantly fewer Whitefield households relied on Social Security income (24% for the town compared to 33% for the County) and on retirement income (17% for the town  compared to 21% for the County).  This suggests that Whitefield residents are more likely to be actively employed than residents of Lincoln County as a whole.

 

In 1999, 277 Whitefield residents lived below the poverty level (13% of all residents).This was significantly higher than the County's rate (7%), although it was close to the State as a whole (11%) as well as to rates for Augusta and Chelsea.  The communities of Jefferson, Pittston, Windsor, and Alna had significantly lower poverty levels.

 

In 2003, 80 Whitefield households, (161 total residents) relied on the State's food stamp program for support.  In addition, 17 households (41 persons) received Temporary Aid for Needy Families.  These levels are roughly in line with rates for surrounding communities when adjusted for population size.  

 

Issues and Implications

1.  Whitefield's population is growing rapidly, doubling since 1970.  Since 1990, Whitefield has been the fastest growing town in the county.  This rapid growth is projected to continue as families in the Augusta and Midcoast areas seek to live in peaceful, inexpensive communities.

 

2. The number of households is growing faster than the population, a change associated with decrease in average household sizes.  In order to house the projected 412 new residents projected by 2015, Whitefield will have to create an additional 324 households. 

 

3.  Whitefield is a relatively young community.  But there has been a dramatic increase in the proportion of persons 45 to 65 years of age from 1990 to 2000.   This reflects the movement of younger and middle-aged persons into town and possibly elderly needing assisted living moving out of town. These demographic trends are expected to continue in the future.

 

4.  Despite Whitefield's generally good income level (we are slightly below Lincoln County, but higher than the State], There is a significant number of residents living below the poverty line.

 

5. When compared with neighboring towns, the County and the State, Whitefield:

 

·        Has a lower percentage of seasonal housing (7%). (Maine average 16%, Lincoln County 28%; Jefferson 30%). We are not a vacation  town. 

·        Is tied with Windsor in rate of population growth (101%) during 1970-2000.

o       (Maine 29%;  Lincoln County 64%;  Jefferson 92%;  Chelsea 86%)

·        Has the greatest projected rate of population growth (18%) 2000-2015 (Maine 4% Lincoln County 11%; Jefferson 13%; Windsor 16%; Chelsea 3%)

·        Has the greatest percentage of mobile homes (24%). (Maine 12%; Lincoln County 15%; Jefferson 16%)*

·        Has the lowest per capita ($16.4K) income.  (US $21.5K; Maine $19.5 K; Lincoln County $20.7K; Jefferson $20.3K; Windsor $16.7K)**

·        Has the greatest increase in the percentage (33%) of single family homes 1990-2002 (Lincoln County 19%; Jefferson 15%)*

·        Has the greatest percentage of houses built (28.2%) between 1990-2000. (Jefferson 21.5%; Windsor 25.9%; Chelsea 24.1%)*

·        Has the most unemployment (4.6%) in 2000  (Maine 3.5%; Jefferson 2.4%; Windsor 3.0%; Chelsea 2.9%)**

·        Has the lowest median age (33.6 yrs) in 2000.  (Lincoln County 42.6 yrs;  Jefferson 40.1 yrs)  Whitefield has seen a remarkable increase in the number of persons aged 45-65 from 1990 to 2000.

·        Has population forecasts of:  2, 451 in 2005: 2,590 in 2010: and 2,685 in 2015.                                                                                                                  

*See Housing Section

     **See Economy Section

 

6. Whitefield's rapid growth, along with decreasing household size, which is expected to continue in the next one or two decades, suggests that many new homes will be built, resulting in greater pressure for services, such as paving of roads, snow plowing, fire protection, perhaps even for public transportation.

 

7.  More land will be developed, with more roadside driveway (curb)  cuts, possibly subdivisions. The rural character of Whitefield, its natural undeveloped land and scenic views could be threatened if there are not incentives for preservation of open space.

 

8. A significant proportion of new dwellings will be mobile homes with a resulting mix of lower valuations and tax base.  Town services may have to be curtailed, or tax rates will need to be increased.

 

9.  Though Whitefield's population will probably continue to be younger than surrounding towns, our present age bulge will be in the 60 to 80 year old range.  Thought should be given to providing for elder housing, possibly subsidized, and to assisted living facilities and services appropriate for elderly citizens, such as community shopping and recreational facilities within walking distances.  The alternative to this is a large exodus of elderly people.

 

10.  Though the expansion of the school-age population will be comparable to that in the State and surrounding communities, there will be an increase in the number of school children, requiring more classrooms and facilities. It is probable that computer-based education will be more expensive.  This will create another demand on the tax base.
A-2. Land Use

Pattern of Development

Whitefield is a rural community with roots in agriculture and forestry.  Many townspeople still view the town as a rural, farming community despite the fact that there are only a handful of full time farmers and that 75% of the residents work out of town.  Farming currently occurs primarily in the North Whitefield section of town down both sides of the Sheepscot River.  These areas are also considered some of the most scenic in town.  Numerous residents have small home sidelines in the agricultural field – growing vegetables, blueberries, maple syrup, honey bees, eggs, sheep, beef and flowers, Christmas trees and herbs as well as backyard gardens.  There are also a number of tree farms and land that is harvested for timber without being formally part of Tree Growth or Tree Farming programs.

 

The extreme southern tip of town is being heavily mined for gravel over an aquifer unconnected to the primary aquifers running through town.  There is another large pit located just north of the school on the Vigue Road with many smaller pits scattered down the center of town from north to south.

 

Housing is almost strictly single family homes widely spaced from one another with the exception of the three small “village” areas—Coopers Mills, North Whitefield, Kings Mills-- where houses are more closely spaced.  New houses are going in on single lots, rarely as developments.  The most concentrated building activity is occurring on the middle section of Hunts Meadow Road near Trainor Corner.  The northern and middle sections of town are seeing more new houses than the southern section.  The lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams are relatively undeveloped with only a few camps along the southern shore of Clary Lake that have been there for years. Most houses are set well back from the other bodies of water.

 

Small businesses are also becoming more prevalent as the community grows.  These are interspersed amid the houses as owners frequently start businesses adjacent to their homes. The business development is more concentrated in the northern part of town.  Route 17 has many business endeavors, as does Route 218. Whitefield is home to numerous artists and artisans who value the tranquility of the rural countryside and draw inspiration from it.  On the flip side, the town currently has a problem with unlicensed junkyards.

 

Coopers Mills in the northeastern most corner has the Sheepscot Valley Health Center, Country Manor Nursing Home, Country Corners store, Elmer’s Barn, a post office, and fire station.  North Whitefield in the middle of town contains the school, post office, fire station, Town Office, North Whitefield Superette, Uncas Farms Organic and Natural Foods Store, Hairworks, Country Farms Restaurant, the salt shed, recycling center, and two churches.  In the southern part of town Kings Mills has a fire station, golf course, Union Hall, and church. 

 

Land Use Ordinances

Whitefield has developed the following ordinances related to land use:

 

·        The Minimum Lot Size Ordinance applies to all seasonal, permanent or mobile housing, and other physical structures such as barns or garages.

o       Dwellings constructed prior to 1976 are exempt from the ordinance.

o       Dwellings must be situated on no less than 1.5 acres of land.

o       A new structure must be no less than 70 feet from the center of a traveled way, and 15 feet from the nearest property line. 

o       The Planning Board has the discretion to waive aspects of this ordinance if it determines that conditions create a hardship on the property owner.

 

·        The Development Ordinance regulates commercial, residential, industrial, and institutional development. It requires the developer to participate in a pre-application conference with the Planning Board and present a general overview of the project.  The Planning Board reviews a checklist of information listed in the ordinance and determines what is pertinent to the proposed development.  The developer is required to provide this information in the formal application submitted to the Planning Board along with a fee.  The Planning Board decides whether a public hearing is necessary; however, a hearing is required if 15 or more persons petition the Planning Board for one.  The Planning Board must make its decision within 60 days of receiving the application or within 30 days of the date of the public hearing. In making its decision, the Planning Board may require certain modifications to the plan to fulfill the requirements of the minimum lot size ordinance and to preserve the public health of the residents or the natural beauty of the town.

 

·        The Shoreland Use Regulation Ordinance is used in conjunction with the State of Maine guidelines for Municipal Shoreland and Zoning Ordinances.  The stricter requirements of either regulation will apply.  The ordinance applies to development within 300 feet of the high water mark of any wetland, pond, river, or salt water body as defined by the Resource Protection District, the General Development District, or the Limited Residential-Recreational District, as described in the ordinance.  The Planning Board may waive certain provisions of this ordinance for reasons of hardship, subject to the approval of the State Planning Office.

o       The ordinance sets standards for sedimentation control.

o       Logging within 25 feet of a high water mark is prohibited.

o       No structure shall be erected closer than 200 feet of a shoreland zone.

o       Frontage in the shoreland zone will not be less than 150 feet. 

o       No structure will be less than 25 feet from the nearest property line.

o       The ordinance sets standards for septic design, and generally requires that a septic tank be located no less than 200 feet from the high water mark.

o       The ordinance sets standards for forest management activities and timber harvesting.

 

·        The Manufactured Housing Ordinance establishes minimum requirements for manufactured housing units.

o       The unit must have a minimum width of 14' and a minimum of 750 square feet of living space.

o       The unit must meet federal and state building code requirements, have residential siding, and must be placed on a permanent foundation with the appropriate skirting.

 

·        The Subdivision Ordinance applicability is defined by the Maine Revised Statutes Title 30, Section 4956.  Subdivisions exceeding 5 units are classified as major, fewer than five units minor.  The applicant must attend a pre-application conference with the Planning Board and present a description of the plan along with sketch plans.

o       For a minor subdivision, the applicant shall submit two original plans, tax plan numbers, verification of title, a description of the proposed sewage system(s), soil surveys, contour lines, and various other information required by the ordinance.  The Planning Board will make an on-site inspection of the property.  The applicant then submits a formal application within six months, along with a fee.  When a completed application has been accepted, the Planning Board organizes a public hearing and notifies interested parties, e.g., the school and fire department.  The information from these steps will be incorporated in a final plan, which The Planning Board must act on within 60 days, or 30 days of a public hearing

o       A major subdivision requires, in addition to the requirements of a minor subdivision, road design specifications, approval by the Maine Department of Environmental protection and the Maine Department of Human Services, a soil and sedimentation control plan, possible open space requirements and, depending on location, notification of municipal officers of neighboring towns.

 

·        The Wireless Communications Facilities Ordinance bans the installation of large lattice-tower facilities, but would allow monopole and other telecommunication facilities designed with the least intrusive impact.  Facilities with low visual impact would have priority over those with high impact.  In cases where no alternatives exist, standard monopole towers would be permitted.  The ordinance also provides for public input concerning the siting and type of facility.

 

·        The Septage and Residuals Ordinance applies to utilization, land application, storage, processing or other handling of residuals (including sewage sludge) or septage within Whitefield.  While the State has the capacity to regulate land spreading of residuals and septage, it is limited in its ability to closely monitor the spreading operations in individual towns.  This ordinance provides the opportunity for local review, monitoring, and enforcement of utilization activities and is administered by the Town’s Planning Board.

 

Issues and Implications

1.  Our town has its own rural character.  This character has been altered with recent development, and could continue to change if the current pattern and pace of development continues or increases in the future. Whitefield is experiencing significant residential growth.  Relatively affordable housing, available land, and relatively low taxes have helped drive this recent growth.  Whitefield's housing stock has increased 30% in the 1990s and nearly one-half of the houses in the town have been built since 1980.

2. Gravel mining is a significant economic activity in Whitefield.  Compliance with standards for reclamation and buffer zones have not been consistent.

3. A large aquifer runs through the center of Whitefield from north to south.  The aquifer needs to be protected as it is a source of drinking water for a large part of the community.

4. Whitefield requires that property owners receive Planning Board approval of a Notice to Build form before new construction occurs to ensure that the requirements of existing ordinances are observed. The NTB form should also assist the Board of Selectmen in timely and equitable property assessment, and  helps the Planning Board and the Code Enforcement Officer monitor where and what type of development is occurring.  Noncompliance with this requirement hampers the work of both boards and the COE.

5. We have a Subdivision Ordinance which regulates major subdivisions (containing more than five lots or dwelling units or a proposed road) and Minor Subdivisions (containing five lots or less with no proposed road). Currently there are very few major subdivisions.  However, given growth trends and the amount of available land and improved roads, major subdivisions are likely eventually.  At present Whitefield's Subdivision Ordinance does not make an allowance for alternative and innovative housing patterns that promote open space, rural character, and flexibility of development.  

6. Whitefield has the smallest minimum lot size (1.5 acres) of the six neighboring communities. 

7. There is no definition for types of commercial development and allowable uses that differentiate between low and high impact. Because there is no designated area for commercial development, such development can occur anywhere in the Town of
Whitefield.

8. Our town has a large number of home businesses.  These businesses are critical to the livelihood and character of Whitefield and should be encouraged.

9. Whitefield has approved and enforces several land use ordinances, including:
    

    Subdivision Ordinance;
    Minimum
Lot Size Ordinance;
    Development Ordinance;
    Manufactured Housing Ordinance;
    Shoreland Ordinance;

    Cell Tower Ordinance;

    Septage and Residuals Ordinance.
   .



A-3.  Local Economy

Labor Force

The Maine Department of Labor reports that in 2002, there were 1,129 persons in Whitefield in the labor force.  Of these, 1,074 were employed, for an unemployment rate of 4.9%.

 

The size of the labor force in Whitefield has increased steadily over the last decade, from 978 in 1992 to 1,129 in 2002 (an increase of 15% in 10 years).  Over the same period, the number of unemployed decreased dramatically from 110 to 55.  Concurrently, the unemployment rate in Whitefield dropped from 11.2% during the recession in 1992 to 4.9% in 2002.

 

                        Table 3.1.  Labor Force

 

1992

% Change

1992 - 2002

2002

Whitefield

978

15%

1,129

Augusta Labor Market Area

46,364

1%

46,978

State of Maine

648,634

6%

686,156

                        Source: Maine Department of Labor

 

                        Table 3.2.  Unemployment Rate

 

1992

1997

2002

Whitefield

11.2%

6.7%

4.9%

Augusta Labor Market Area

6.7%

5.6%

4.1%

State of Maine

7.2%

5.4%

4.4%

                        Source: Maine Department of Labor

 

The Augusta Labor Market Area’s labor force increased to 46,978 in 2002, an increase of only 1% in the last ten years.  In the same period of time, the State of Maine’s labor force increased by 6%.

 

The Augusta LMA’s unemployment rate is consistently lower than that of Whitefield, as is the unemployment rate for the State as a whole. 

 

Commuting Patterns

Of Whitefield’s employed residents, 22% work in Whitefield itself.  This includes those working from their home as well as farmers.  Between 1990 and 2000, the level of Whitefield’s labor force that worked in Whitefield stayed relatively consistent at 22%, even though the total number of workers increased from 183 in 1990 to 240 in 2000. 

 

The remaining 80% of Whitefield’s labor force commute elsewhere for employment.

 

The majority of employed Whitefield residents commuted to jobs in Kennebec County in 2000.  Augusta alone accounted for 40% of the town’s employed labor force.  Other communities in Kennebec County accounted for 12% of the labor force. 

 

Since 1990, the percent of Whitefield’s labor force that worked in Kennebec County increased from 43% to 52%.  This suggests that Whitefield is increasingly becoming a suburb of the Augusta Labor Market Area.

 

Coastal Lincoln, Knox, and Sagadahoc Counties employed 13% of the town’s labor force in 2000.  The Midcoast’s increase in jobs for Whitefield residents was 12% between 1990 and 2000.  This modest increase hides a major decrease in employment in Bath because the Bath Iron Works decreased its labor force significantly in the 1990s.  Communities throughout the Midcoast region experienced increases in employees commuting from Whitefield.

 

            Table 3.3.  Commuting Patterns, 1990 to 2000

 

1990

% Change 90 – 00

2000

% of Total, 2000

Whitefield

183

31%

240

22%

Augusta

331

34%

445

40%

Kennebec County: excl. Augusta

125

9%

136

12%

Midcoast Region

132

12%

148

13%

Elsewhere

61

133%

142

13%

Total

832

34%

1,111

100%

            Source: US Census

 

Local Economy Profile

In 2002, we estimate that there were more than 400 jobs in Whitefield.  The 2000 US Census identified 396 commuters working in Whitefield (includes home occupations, farmers, etc).  The Maine Department of Labor estimated 355 jobs in Whitefield (excluding home occupations, sole proprietorships, farmers, etc). 

 

No direct statistics on these employees’ occupations are available because the employed population is small. Anecdotal evidence suggests the major employers in town include:

 

·        Whitefield Elementary School – more than 50 employees;

·        McCormick and Sons – more than 20 employees;

·        Country Farms Restaurant – more than 20 employees;

·        Country Corners Grocery – more than 10 employees;

·        Sandcastle Entertainment – more than 10 employees;

·        Sheepscot Valley Health Center – more than 10 employees;

·        Midnight Oil—9 employees.

 

In addition to these larger employers, the Comprehensive Planning Committee has surveyed the town and identified more than 130 businesses that operate within the community.  These range from home occupations to farms to larger employers in the community. 

 

More than half of the jobs available in Whitefield are filled by residents of Whitefield.  Other communities that provide a significant number of employees in town include Wiscasset, Windsor, Randolph, Chelsea, and Augusta.

 

Issues and Implications

1.  Despite Whitefield’s rural setting, we are increasingly becoming a suburb of Augusta and the Midcoast region.  Our rate of growth, changing commuting patterns, and employment profile suggest that this role will strengthen in the future.

 

2.  As the number of commuters increases in Whitefield, it will have many implications on our community.  For example, transportation corridors will be more heavily used.  Demand for space for residential development will compete with more traditional natural resource based activities.  These implications can drastically change residents’ relationships with the local natural resource based economy. 

 

3.  Whitefield’s economy has a very large number of small and home-based businesses.  These include a wide variety of farms, home professional businesses, and seasonal occupations.

 

4.  There are currently some clustering of businesses in Cooper Mills and other villages in the community and, except for Shoreland Zoning, there is little to preclude any type of business from locating anywhere in town.

 

5.  Our town’s geology has created a large number of gravel deposits.  Many gravel operations are extracting this resource to be used in construction throughout the region.  The transportation of this resource can degrade our town’s transportation network.

 

6.  While Whitefield does receive economic development representation from the Lincoln County Economic Development Office, our town has no local organization to promote economic activity in the community.

 

 


A-4.  Housing

 

Housing Unit Change

In 2000, there were 958 housing units in Whitefield.  This represents significant growth from the 737 units in 1990 (an increase of 30%).  This rate of increase is significantly larger than for Lincoln County (19%) and the state as a whole (11%).

 

All of Whitefield’s surrounding communities grew significantly, but none as much as Whitefield (Table 4.1.) 

 

                        Table 4.1.  Housing Unit Change, 1990 - 2000

 

1990

2000

% Change,

1990 – 2000

Whitefield

727

958

30%

Windsor

758

952

26%

Chelsea

811

1,015

25%

Pittston

889

1,070

20%

Lincoln County

17,538

20,849

19%

Alna

264

315

19%

Jefferson

1,219

1,427

17%

Maine

587,045

651,901

11%

Augusta

9,572

9,480

-1%

                        Source: US Census

 

 

Housing Unit Type

Whitefield’s housing is overwhelmingly single-family housing.  In 2000, three-quarters of the housing in Whitefield was single-family housing, and another 23% was mobile homes.  The remaining units were duplexes (2% of all housing units) and 3 or 4 unit structures.

 

                                    Table 4.2.  Housing Units by Type

 

1990

2000

% Change,

1990 – 2000

Single-Family

570

717

26%

Duplex

7

20

186%

Multi-Family

9

4

-56%

Mobile

145

217

50%

Other

6

0

-100%

Total Units

737

958

30%

                                    Source: US Census

 

 

Since 1990, mobile homes have increased by 72 units (or 50%).  This rate of growth outpaced the rate for single-family homes (26%).

 

 Age of Housing Units

Nearly half of Whitefield’s housing units have been built since 1980 (or 48%).  Another one-quarter of the units were built before 1940. 


Whitefield’s housing stock is relatively new compared with the county and the state as a whole. 

 

Figure 4.1.  Age Of Whitefield Housing Units

 

Source: US Census

 

Housing Unit Value

In 2000, the median value of owner-occupied housing units was $87,200.  This was an increase over 1990 when the median household was valued at $76,300.

 

The Maine State Housing Authority provides housing value estimates based on 2002 data.  MSHA estimated that, based on 12 home sales in 2002, the median sale price in Whitefield was $75,950.  These median sale prices tend to be more volatile than the data reported by the US Census, because the sample population used to determine the MSHA estimates are much smaller than the sample used to determine the US Census estimate.

 

Affordability Assessment

Affordable housing for homeowners is defined by Maine’s Growth Management Act as housing in which the mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, condominium fees, and utilities do not exceed 33% of the homeowner’s gross income.  For renters, the standard is 30% of gross income for rent and utilities.

 

One of the State of Maine’s objectives is to encourage a supply of housing that is affordable to households in three income groups:

 

·        Very Low Income Households – the income of these households is less than 50% of Lincoln County’s median household income in 2002.  The Maine State Housing Authority estimates that this includes the 186 households earning less than $18,300 per year.

·        Lower Income Households – the income of these households is between 50% and 80% of the county’s median household income.  In Whitefield, this includes the estimated 158 households that earn between $18,300 and $29,300 per year.

·        Moderate Income Households –the income of these households is between 80% and 150% of the county’s median household income.  In Whitefield, this includes the estimated 305 households that earn between $29,300 and $54,900 per year.

 

The Maine State Housing Authority calculated an affordability index for Whitefield that compares the ability of a community’s household of median income to purchase the community’s median priced home.

 

Table 4.2.  Affordability Summary, 2002

 

2002 Median Income

2002 Median Home Value

Home that can be Purchased with Median Income

Affordability Index

Whitefield

$37,804

$75,950

$108,897

1.43

Augusta Housing Market*

$42,047

$93,900

$117,762

1.25

Maine

$42,029

$133,500

$118,618

0.8

Lincoln County

$41,166

$143,000

$118,858

0.83

Source: Maine State Housing Authority

 

Note: an affordability index reading greater than 1.0 suggests that a community is affordable

 

*Augusta Housing Market includes the communities of Augusta, Chelsea, Farmingdale, Fayette, Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Manchester, Monmouth, Pittston, Randolph, Readfield, Wayne, West Gardiner, Windsor, Winthrop, Leeds, Jefferson, Somerville, Whitefield, Hebert’s Gore, Palermo, China, Vassalboro, Sidney, Belgrade, Mount Vernon, Rome, and Vienna.

 

Based on this analysis, Whitefield is an affordable community when compared with the Augusta Housing Market, the state as a whole, and Lincoln County.

 

Issues and Implications

1.  Whitefield’s housing stock is growing rapidly.  It increased 30% in the 1990s, and nearly half of the town’s houses have been built since 1980.  This rapid growth is projected to continue through 2015.  Most new residential growth appears to be in commuting distance of Augusta

 

2.  Single-family homes and mobile homes accounted for virtually all of the town’s new housing built between 1990 and 2000.  The town’s stock of mobile homes is increasing at a faster rate than growth in the single-family housing stock.  The low-cost of mobile homes is a major factor driving the increasing popularity of these units, according to state planning office projections.  This trend will continue through 2015.

 

3.  Housing in Whitefield is relatively inexpensive when compared with incomes in the region and surrounding communities.  While there are many households in the community below the poverty level, in general median household incomes are able to afford the median housing unit.

 

4.  The affordability of the housing in Whitefield appears to be one of the major factors driving the community’s rapid growth.

 

5.  Many of the new families moving into Whitefield are young families.   Most of these families will be putting their children through the local school system.  School enrollments could stay high for many years to come.  The number of occupants per dwelling declined from 2.92 to 2.62 from 1990 to 2000.

 

6.  Many of the new houses are being built along the town’s existing road corridors.  While this pattern of development protects interior land from development, it can impact the scenic character of the community.  However, as the road corridors are built out, interior areas become more attractive for development.

 

7.  Whitefield currently has no required building permit to track the amount, size, and quality of construction in the community, and the required Notice to Build for all structures has a high level of noncompliance. This prevents the town from maintaining accurate records resulting in lost tax assessments and increasing the tax burden on other citizens.

 

 

 

 


A-5.  Transportation

Transportation networks connect Whitefield residents with each other as well as the rest of the world.  Whitefield’s transportation network is more dependent on automobiles than most communities, but there are informal trail networks as well. 

 

Understanding the extent of the transportation network, trends in its use, and how changing development patterns could impact this network is crucial when planning for the community’s future. 

 

Vehicular Traffic

Whitefield’s transportation network is dominated by vehicular traffic traveling on the community’s network of public and private roads.  The maintenance responsibility for these roads depends on the principal use of the roadway and falls on private individuals, the Town of Whitefield, and the State of Maine. 

 

As of 2004, the road network within Whitefield consists of 67.0 miles of roadways (Figure 1, Table 1).  These roadways vary in function and character from high-speed arterials to private gravel roadways. 

 

·        There are approximately 2.0 miles of arterial roadway, defined by the Maine Department of Transportation as travel routes that carry high speed, long distance traffic usually with a US Route number designation.  The arterial route in Whitefield includes the portions of Route 17 that traverse the northern borders of the town.

·        There are approximately 25.6 miles of collector roadways, defined by MDOT as travel routes that collect and distribute traffic from and to arterials, serving places of lower population densities and somewhat removed from main travel routes.  In Whitefield, these collectors include Routes 218, 126, and 194 and Cooper Road.

·        There are approximately 39.1  miles of local roads, defined by MDOT as all roadways not classified as an arterial or collector, and serving primarily adjacent land areas.  In Whitefield, these include the 13 miles of gravel roads that are maintained in the summer by the Town of Whitefield.

There are approximately eight private roads and many named and unnamed common driveways, which are maintained by private individuals and/or businesses.

 

The Town of Whitefield is responsible for summer maintenance of 39.23 miles of roadway, almost 30% of which are gravel.  As residential growth occurs on these roads, maintenance costs will rise due to increases in traffic.  As a result of increased use and additional development, the town has a policy of paving gravel roads in order to reduce annual maintenance costs.  For example, Cookson Road, which is gravel and has experienced a significant increase in residential development, was paved in 2004.  By encouraging development in areas that are served by suitable roads, increased maintenance costs associated with gravel roads and future capital outlays for paving gravel roads may be avoided or at least delayed.
Table 5.1. 
Whitefield Road Inventory

Name

Function

Length

(mi.)

Summer

Maint

(mi)

Winter

Maint (mi)

Paved

(mi.)

Gravel

(mi.)

Condition

(P/F/G/E)

Comments

Local Concerns

Route 17

arterial

2.05

 

 

2.05

 

E

paved w/in past 5 yrs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Route 126

collector

5.90

 

 

5.90

 

P

Reconstructed 2004

gravel truck route, higher speeds increased traffic

 

 

 

 

 

Route 194

collector

5.30

 

5.30

5.30

 

G

paved w/in past 5 yrs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Route 218 North

collector

3.10

 

3.10

3.10

 

G

paved w/in past 5 yrs

gravel truck route

 

 

 

 

 

Route 218 South

collector

3.25

 

3.25

3.25

 

G

paved w/in past 5 yrs

gravel truck route

 

 

 

 

 

Bailey Road

 

0.40

0.40

0.40

 

0.40

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benner Lane

 

1.05

1.05

1.05

 

1.05

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carleton Road

 

1.45

1.45

1.45

 

1.45

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cookson Road

 

0.40

0.40

0.40

 

0.40

F

 Section paved 2004

sig. traffic increase

 

 

 

 

 

Cooper Road

collector

3.53

 

3.53

3.53

 

G

2004  DOT improvements deferred

gravel truck rte; hvy traffic, dangerous intersection

 

 

 

 

 

Devine Road

 

1.94

1.94

1.94

1.00

0.94

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dexter Lane

 

0.12

0.12

0.12

 

0.12

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doyle Road

 

1.47

1.47

1.47

 

1.47

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East River Road (218)

collector

4.50

 

4.50

4.50

 

G

paved w/in past 5 yrs

gravel truck route

 

 

 

 

 

Ford Road

 

0.10

0.10

0.10

 

0.10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fowles Road

 

0.48

0.48

0.48

 

0.48

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gorman Lane

 

0.26

0.26

0.26

 

0.26

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heath Road

 

2.73

2.73

2.73

2.73

 

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry Lane

 

0.15

0.15

0.15

 

0.15

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hilton Road

 

2.91

2.91

2.91

2.91

 

G (F-gravel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Howe Road

 

2.39

2.39

2.39

2.39

 

G

 Paved 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ctr Hunts Meadow Rd

 

2.40

2.40

2.40

2.40

 

G

partially paved 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewett Road

 

1.10

1.10

1.10

 

1.10

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Libby Lane

 

0.10

0.10

0.10

 

0.10

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Street

 

1.10

1.10

1.10

1.10

 

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nilsen Lane

 

0.15

0.15

0.15

 

0.15

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N. Hunts Meadow Rd.

 

1.99

1.99

1.99

1.99

 

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palmer Road

 

0.97

0.97

0.97

0.97

 

E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philbrick Road

 

1.20

1.20

1.20

 

1.20

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piper Lane

 

0.38

0.38

0.38

 

0.38

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rooney Road

 

0.90

0.90

0.90

 

0.90

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senott Road

 

1.31

1.31

1.31

1.31

 

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somerville Road

 

0.29

0.29

0.29

0.29

 

P

 paved 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

S. Hunts Meadow Rd.

 

1.90

1.90

1.90

1.90

 

P

Partially paved 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thayer Road

 

1.73

1.73

1.73

1.73

 

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Townhouse Road

 

4.39

4.39

4.39

4.39

 

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vigue Road

 

3.28

3.28

3.28

3.28

 

G

 paved 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windsor Road

 

0.19

0.19

0.19

0.19