6.1.1 Roads and Traffic
6.1.2 Public Transportation
6.2.1 Water Supply System
6.2.2 Sewer Systems
6.2.3 Electric Power and Power Lines
6.3 LAND OWNERSHIP PATTERNS
6.4 REAL ESTATE AND DEVELOPMENT TRENDS
6.4.1 Real Estate Trends
6.4.2 Development Trends
6.4.3 Coping with Growth
Regional Access Highways
Merrymeeting Bay lies between two of Maine's major highways, the Maine Turnpike and Route 1, the major coastal route. Between them these two highways handle over 20,000 vehicles per day on average. Their direct significance to the Bay, however, is peripheral. The Turnpike passes the Bay to the north and the nearest tollbooths are at Gardiner, some 10 miles north of the Bay and at Lewiston some 20 miles to the northwest. I-95 between Portland and Topsham and its extension, Route 1, serves the Bath and Brunswick areas and the down east coastline. This highway skirts the Androscoggin River and crosses the Kennebec between Bath and Woolwich before heading toward Wiscasset and beyond. Local roads connecting with Route 1 provide access to the Bay area towns.
Regional highway access to the Bay from the south and east is thus catered for by Route 1. The Maine Turnpike provides for traffic destined for the Bay from the north while traffic originating in the west, in New Hampshire and beyond, can best reach the Bay by local access roads.
Average annual daily traffic (ADT) counts on the Turnpike in 1974 between Lewiston and Gardiner were between 6500 and 7000 vehicles per day. Counts on Route 1 just south of Topsham averaged some 14,000 vehicles per day in 1972, between Bath and Brunswick this total reduced to about 13,000 vehicles per day while across the Kennebec at Woolwich the traffic on this route amounted to just over 9,000 vehicles per day. From this it can be seen that much of the traffic on Route 1 originating in the south is dispersed in the Topsham/Brunswick/Bath area. A similar situation occurs during the peak tourist season when traffic volumes on Route 1 increase substantially. In August 1973 the total south of Topsham was over 21,000 vehicles per day; east of Woolwich in Rockport it was over 13,000 vehicles per day during the summer months of July and August 1973.
Traffic volumes on Route 1 east of Woolwich increased 70% between 1960 and 1972. An extension to I-95 from Topsham to the Turnpike at Gardiner is presently under construction; the impact and implications of this new structure are discussed later in this chapter.
A network of numbered roads serve the towns around the Bay. Together they act to link the towns and villages of the area to the regional highways and urban centers; in so doing they also act as through routes. They are, by and large, fairly narrow, two-lane, rural roads that are scenic in character and that frequently follow old town ways.
Generally, the roads run in a north-south direction on either side of the Bay; however, a number of west-east links do exist and help to complete the network. To the west of the Bay the two more important through routes are Route 201 (between Topsham and Gardiner) and Route 196 (between Topsham and Lewiston). Traffic volumes in 1972 on Route 201 averaged from 2,900 to 6,500 vehicles per day and have not increased signifi- cantly over the last 20 years. With the completion of the new section of I-95 which roughly parallels Route 201, a reduction of traffic can be expected. Traffic volumes on Route 196, however, have increased dramatically. Since 1950 there has been more than a 240% increase, from 2,000 vehicles per day then to over 6,800 vehicles per day in 1972. This is testimony to the growing importance of both the Bath/ Brunswick and Lewiston/Auburn areas as employment centers.
To the east of the Bay the most important through route is Route 27 from Gardiner to Wiscasset via Dresden Mills. Volumes on this road have doubled in the last decade from 1,000 vehicles per day in 1960 to 2,100 in 1972. There is a seasonal difference in traffic volumes on this route; ADT in April 1973 ran at 2,000 vehicles per day while in July the figure was 2,800 vehicles per day.
Whereas Routes 201, 196, and 27 are important local through routes, they are not located as close to the Bay as are the following local access roads (the latest ADT figures for these routes is shown in brackets after the route number and next to the village or road number where the count was taken, all ADT figures from Maine Depart- ment of Transportation):
--Route 24, between Topsham (955 ADT) Bowdoinham (500 ADT) Richmond (660 ADT) and Gardiner.
--Route 125, west of Bowdoinham (855 ADT)
--Route 197, west of Richmond (1,265 ADT) and east of Richmond (1,170 ADT)
--Route 128, north of 197 (375 ADT) and south to Day's Ferry (315 ADT)
--Route 127, west of Day's Ferry (685 ADT) and north of Woolwich (1,570 ADT)
Traffic volumes on these roads increased about 20% to 25% between 1968 and 1972.. However, over the last 20 years the increase has been steady if not dramatic. For example, traffic counts on the Richmond bridge over the Kennebec show 450 vehicles per day in 1950, 700 vehicles per day in 1960, and 1,880 vehicles per day in 1970. Likewise on Route 24 between Bowdoinham and Topsham the numbers read 520 vehicles per day in 1950, 650 vehicles per day in 1960, and 955 vehicles per day in 1970. These figures reflect the steady population growth that has occurred in the general area during this same time period.
Rural Access Roads
Many paved and gravel roads serve the rural lands that surround the Bay providing access to farms and country homes. These are invariably roads that existed when agriculture was one of the area's main activities. They are, therefore, often narrow and winding and have alignments that frequently follow ridge lines. Some of these roads have been abandoned as farming activities have declined and a few others will be cut off by the new I-95.
Where these roads lie near growing urban centers, their character is being changed from rural to suburban. The Old Bath Road and Foreside Road in Topsham or Fisher Road in Bowdoinham are examples of this trend. The ADT on south Foreside Road for example is 910 vehicles per day, whereas it is only 125 vehicles per day at its north end near Route 24.
Map 16 shows diagramatically the relative volumes of traffic on all the more important roads in the Bay area. The traffic volumes on the rural access roads average somewhere between 100 vehicles per day to 400 vehicles per day.
The State Highway System
Map 15 shows the extent of the State Highway Systems around Merry- meeting Bay in 1974. Five categories of highway in addition to the Maine Turnpike are involved; the categories are based primarily on the roads functional classification as well as the volume of traffic carried, the lane width, and the extent of Federal and State Aid applied. The map only shows the State Highway System (made up of Federal Aid, Interstate, F.A. Secondary, and non-federal aid roads that are part of the system) and State-Aid roads that also are eligible for Federal Aid. The map thus does not show all State-Aid roads.
New Highway Construction
The significance of the extension of I-95 from Topsham to Gardiner some four miles west of the Bay and now under construction is considerable. In the past the Bay has been a "backwater" in terms of its regional accessibility; neither the Maine Turnpike nor Route 1 serve it directly. In the future (the highway is now planned for completion in 1976) this will change; the Bay will be regionally accessible. Major intersections are being built at Topsham, Bowdoinham, Richmond, and Gardiner (see diagram on following page). The stretch of I-95 between Route 201 in Gardiner and the Turnpike is now complete and open to traffic. It should be noted that I-95 has been complete to Brunswick for some time and that the southern edge of the Bay has had the benefit of this access for some time.
The new highway is designed as a scenic, divided highway with two lanes in each direction. Obviously as it duplicates Route 201's through function, I-95 will siphon off much of this traffic as well as a considerable portion of trips destined for Augusta from Portland land vice versa) that would presently use the Turnpike. In fact, the new I-95 will shorten this distance by five miles and save drivers 75ó in toll fees.
Design studies by the Maine Department of Transportation show that in the year it opens I-95 should have over 8,000 vehicles per day. Their projections for 1990 show volumes of over 17,000 vehicles per day; in the year 2000, volume will be in excess of 22,000 vehicles per day. The implications these high traffic volume figures have on the local town roads that intersect with I-95 are interesting. For example on Route 197 at Richmond where the present vehicles-per- day figure is 1,265; it is expected to be 1,430 vehicles per day when I-95 is opened and 2,350 vehicles per day by 1990; almost twice the present volume. On Route 196, the present vehicles per day figure is 6,825; with the opening of I-95, it is projected to jump to 7,640 vehicles per day and by 1990 the projections show 12,000 vehicles per day, or about 1,200 vehicles per hour in peak periods.
The figures and table describe the Department of Transportation projections more precisely. It should be noted that these figures do not take new traffic, generated by highway-related developments, into account; the volumes are also tentative and subject to adjustment with the availability of new traffic and socio-economic data according to the Department's Bureau of Planning.
A review of the Department of Transportation's 1974-75 Highway Construction Program shows that little other important new construc- tion is planned for Sagadahoc, Cumberland, or Lincoln counties in areas near the Bay. The most significant project listed concerns engineering studies in Topsham on Route 196 near the Lisbon town line. Studies were evidently made necessary by the high increase of traffic in recent years on that route. The few other improvements planned are all so-called "stop-gap improvements" necessitated by inflationary trends in the highway construction industry and the Department's established budgetary resources. The 1976-77 Highway and Bridge Improvement Program by Maine Department of Transportation lists only one improvement in the study area, the replacement of the Abagadasset Bridge on Route 197 in Richmond.
The Implications of Increased Traffic
It is difficult to project traffic volume figures and their impli- cations when the whole question of gasoline and its availability is the subject of considerable speculation. Until the so-called energy problem is resolved and clear policies are defined, traffic projec- tions will be contingent on day-to-day occurrences in the global oil situation.
Nevertheless this country's heavy reliance on the automobile is sure to continue and the demand cars put on roads, both in terms of maintenance and improvements, will likewise increase. The patterns of development around the Bay reflect this same reliance on the car. New housing is being built further from the village centers and the automobile and the rural road system serve to link the two.
Unless the impact of the automobile is planned for and controlled in the Merrymeeting Bay region (and elsewhere in Maine), the people and the environment will be dictated to by this machine rather than vice versa.
It is important to recognize that most traffic and road construction planning is done reactively; conditions worsen until they reach a point where a plan to solve the problem is required. What is needed are policies at both the local (town) and state level that address the issue of growth (where it should occur, when it should occur, if it should occur) and transportation plans that implement these policies. Admittedly such thinking may be difficult to achieve now, but to react to growth rather than to plan for it is to lose sight of the fact that man does have control and should not be dictated to by his creations.
The table on the next page shows traffic volumes and projections on some of the principal roads in the Bay area. The projections by the Maine Department of Transportation take the impact of the new I-95 into account and show that traffic volumes are likely to increase; in one instance by as much as 500% (on Route 196 between 1950 and 1990).
Increased traffic can "spin-off" highway related development, especially at key intersections. Garish signs, gas stations, motels, and fast food type operations are ofttimes associated with important highway intersections. This is not to say that like facilities will occur at every I-95 intersection but it does suggest that the towns preempt any such uncontrolled development by preparing adequate zoning and sign controls.
Similar controls should be instituted on those roads linking the I-95 intersections with the villages of Topsham, Bowdoinham, and Richmond. Strip-type commercial development could occur on these roads which would be better concentrated in the village or at the intersection.
Increased traffic using I-95 may well be supplemented by increases in tourist traffic. The informative "Tourism in Maine" study showed that sightseeing is the most popular tourist activity. It also showed that congestion is occurring along the coast during the peak tourist season, and went so far as to suggest that the state adopt a policy of encouraging four-season tourist attractions further inland. The implications this has on the study area are twofold; first, I-95 is a logical route from the coast inland, and second the Bay itself could conceivably become a tourist sightseeing attraction, although the recreation studies argue against it. Both of these could result in more traffic.
If all this points to more traffic, it is important that the positive "spin-off" effects be captured and that the negative effects be eliminated or at least reduced to a minimum. The paragraphs below describe what the effects may be and how it may be possible to deal with them.
- I-95 will create noise pollution especially from heavy truck traffic.
--Zone a 250-foot strip of land on either side of the highway as a buffer and prohibit development there (for visual as well as noise protection reasons).
--Research efforts by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to regulate noise generated by highway uses and take reasonable actions to control excessive noise.
- I-95 intersections with local roads will make land in the vicinity desirable to development.
--Control development through new zoning and/or outright purchase (by town or a community development corporation or a regional authority).
-- Increased traffic on some local roads will encourage new strip development along them. If this is not considered by local planning and land use controls, traffic conflicts and accidents will increase.
--Establish at the town level a hierarchy of roads based on present and projected traffic volumes and set up standards to control the distance between entrance driveways, setbacks, signs, speeds, etc.
--Set standards to control access and egress on new develop- ment based on traffic volumes and road frontage with the D.O.T.
--Zone to eliminate strip-type development.
- Increased traffic will necessitate higher maintenance costs (street repairs, resurfacing, plowing) and will possibly mean the provision of street lights and traffic signals.
--These costs should be taken into account by each town as they represent the costs of growth; they imply higher taxes that either have to be borne by the community at large or by those businesses locating on and profiting from a high traffic volume road.
On a statewide scale, it is worthwhile looking at the "Corridor Concept" put forward in A Maine Manifest (Barringer et al. 1972) because this concept is based on the fact that growth and employ- ment opportunities are spun off by a regional access corridor-- the Maine Turnpike. A glance at the "corridor" of towns identified in that study shows the Bay area towns conspicuously unaffected. Yet I-95 between Brunswick and Gardiner could change this and extend the "corridor" to the towns of Topsham, Bowdoinham, and Richmond, in the study area (see map) and Gardiner. Gardiner, in fact, has announced an industrial park development and shopping mall proposal for the intersection of I-95 and Route 201. While the market for the latter has been questioned the idea of establishing develop- ments that could make prime use of the regional accessibility offered by these locations should be pursued. Regional distribution centers, truck terminals, and warehousing, research and development offices, motels, etc., immediately come to mind.
The Merrymeeting Bay area is served by three local bus companies and the national Greyhound bus system. Greyhound operates a coastal route that stops in Brunswick and Bath. This route links these towns with Bangor, Rockland, and Portland from whence it links with the company's national network. Some four buses per day run from Brunswick to Portland and two per day from Brunswick to Rockland. There are none directly connecting Brunswick and Augusta.
The three local transportation companies provide a variety of services, none of which are significant in terms of a public transportation system for the area. They are essentially small operations serving a very small market.
Bath Bus Service has 12 buses, five of which operate as school buses. The firm does some charter work and provides a single morning and evening bus run through the town; this is essentially for Bath Iron Works employees.
Brunswick Transportation Company owns about 40 buses. Twenty-five of these are used primarily for charter work; for example, the company offers package tours out of state and in the summer operates a one- day coastal tour. A five-days-a-week service is provided between Richmond and Brunswick; a single morning and evening bus on this route is used mostly by Richmond and Bowdoinham residents working in Brunswick.
The South Gardiner Baptist Church also provides a weekday service to Bath Iron Works employees from Gardiner via Richmond, Bowdoinham, Topsham, and Brunswick. This service consists of two buses in the morning and single buses in the afternoon and at night. These serve all three Bath Iron Works shifts.
The nearest Maine airports to Merrymeeting Bay with scheduled passenger service are those at Auburn-Lewiston, Augusta, and Portland. These are served by Air New England and Delta tat Portland). Connections in Boston and New York allow air travellers to fly to all major cities. Also significant to the Bay area are a number of small fields for general aviation use. Some of these fields offer such service as 6-16 sightseeing flights, general charter, maintenance, instruction, and fueling. Those fields listed in the area by the Federal Aviation Administration office in Augusta include:
Douglas Field, Brunswick (privately owned and completely inactive)
Enman Field, Brunswick (privately owned and for private use only)
Bradley Field, Topsham (privately owned and for private use only)
Davis Field, Topsham (private and now closed)
Merrymeeting Airport, Bowdoinham (turf, commercially licensed, public use)
Wiscasset Airport, Wiscasset (paved, commercially licensed, public use)
These last hue airports are inspected by the Maine Bureau of Aeronautics to assure compliance with minimum safety standards.
Some 4,000 take-offs and landings of local aircraft are recorded annually at Merrymeeting Airport. An additional 1,500 itinerant tout of state or non-local) flights were recorded in 1974. The Wiscasset field had about 12,000 take-offs and landings and 5,000 itinerant flights during the same period.
During the peak months of July and August, some 600 flights were recorded at Merrymeeting field and 2,000 per month at Wiscasset. Thirteen planes are regularly stationed at the former field and twenty-eight at the latter.
A single private seaplane operates out of Topsham and uses the Androscoggin River for take-offs and landings.
Brunswick Naval Air Station, located just south of the Androscoggin River and Route 1 and east of the center of Brunswick, is the largest airport facility in the Merrymeeting Bay area. This military installation has an average of 100 take-offs and landings daily or about 35,000 annually. Noise pollution from the Naval Air Station has not been taken into account in either Brunswick's or Topsham's zoning code, although population density and building height restrictions are found in the Brunswick code. Both towns should compute the Composite Noise Rating for the airport and enact land use controls that recognize that certain land uses (especially single-family houses) be prohibited where noise frequencies could be detrimental to the public's well-being.
Whereas the present numbers of take-offs and landings at the small fields around the Bay are such that no noise controls are apparently necessary at this time, the towns should be aware of this potential problem should flights increase. Adequate safety precautions in the direct line of flight approaches and take-offs are needed and these should be incorporated into each town's zoning regulations.
The Maine Central Railroad Company operates two lines in the Merrymeeting Bay area. From Brunswick one line heads east through Bath to Rockland; the other heads towards Augusta and points north, generally following the west bank of the Kennebec River.
There is daily freight service (except Sundays) to Brunswick, Bath, Topsham, Bowdoinham, and Richmond. No lines serve Bowdoin or Dresden. Sidings are located in all the towns served with the exception of Topsham.
In correspondence with the Railroad's Industrial Development, Real Estate, and Taxation Division, this office was told that Maine Central has no plans to phase out any of its freight operations in those towns presently served. In addition, the railroad feels that, if the topography is suitable, sidetracks could be constructed to serve any future industrial park or development.
Apparently the prospects for reintroducing passenger service on Maine Central is nil and it is only remotely possible that AMTRAK would initiate such service possibly in 1977 and then only if the rail bed is improved.
Public Transportation Summary
The chapter on Roads and Traffic and the implications of increased traffic need little further discussion. It is quite evident that the automobile will continue to be the prime mode of transportation and that plans to control and direct its impact on the environment are in order.
Bus service in the Merrymeeting Bay area is minimal. There are some nine bus trips per day serving primarily Bath Iron Works employees and Greyhound has an intercity service along the coast. The state's Department of Transportation is presently studying public transit service in Maine with a view toward upgrading rural mass transportation with the use of Mass Transportation Program Funds. Should the Bay region itself identify a need for improved bus service, grants from the federal government could become available. The federal share for capital equipment assistance would be 80%; the local share of 20% could be from state, regional, or local sources.
Air transportation as such is not significant to the Bay area, although the noise factor from take-offs and landings at Brunswick Naval Air Station should be a consideration in future land use
planning there and in Topsham.
Finally, rail transportation,. while offering no likelihood of passenger service does provide some of the Bay area towns with freight service. In addition, future industrial plants located on or near existing tracks could be served by sidings.
A report entitled "Sewer and Water 1970" by Community Planning
Services and prepared for the Bath/Brunswick Regional Planning
Commission is the main source for this discussion on water
Richmond, Bowdoinham, Topsham, Brunswick, Bath, and Woolwich have water supply facilities servicing their central areas. Water service for the outlying rural areas is from private dug and drilled wells.
Map 18 shows the extent of service provided by existing pipe systems in these towns and also illustrates the extent of planned future lines.
Bath and Woolwich share a water system which derives its supply from Nequasset Lake. In Woolwich the pipeline follows Route 1; it crosses the Kennebec on the Carlton Bridge and then extends north and south paralleling the river. Recently the system has been extended to the north to serve a new housing development there.
Evidently two top priority goals for this area are: the provision of a second river crossing as a back-up supply, and the interconnection of the Bath system with the Brunswick and Topsham water districts. This latter goal would help provide service to expanding development between Bath and Brunswick.
Brunswick's water-supply lines follow Route 1 and include a number of extensions that run west, north, and south of the central area. Topsham's water supply lines serve its downtown and most buildings within a mile radius of downtown.
Bowdoinham's water service has recently been extended and serves northeast of the village along Route 24. Other lines serve the village area, a portion of Route 125 and 138, and some 2,500 feet of Route 24 south of the village. The report, Bath-Brunswick Region and DD 963, states that the sources and reserve supplies are, "at minimum, five times as large as are needed" (Varhol 1969).
Richmond's water supply is pumped across the Kennebec via Swan Island from wells located in Dresden; it supplies about 540 customers. Only the immediate village area is served although one line does extend west along Route 197 for a distance beyond the village itself.
Dresden has no municipal water supply and all buildings have private well supplies.
Only the urban built-up portions of the larger Bay towns have
water-borne sewage systems serviced by treatment plants. Bowdoinham,
Dresden, and Bowdoin do not have plants and like the majority of the
more rural areas rely primarily on septic tanks for their effluent
About 90% of urban Bath is sewered. A treatment plant has been built at the north end of the town and, according to the Community Planning Services report, all sewage should be receiving secondary treatment by 1976.
Brunswick's sewer system serves much of the built-up area. The whole system is presently being upgraded and secondary treatment is replacing the existing primary system.
Topsham's sewer district is limited to the central downtown area. At present the raw sewage is discharged into the Androscoggin, however, the construction of a sewer main under the river to link the system to Brunswick's treatment plant will eventually alleviate this condition. Construction is only expected to begin in 1976.
Richmond's sewers serve the village area only. The town's primary treatment plant is located on the Kennebec; however, it cannot handle the town's combined storm and sewage water system. This situation is presently being corrected and is in the planning stages. The map on the following page shows the extent of areas in the Bay towns served by sewers.
Water and Sewer Systems--Future Prospects
As is evidenced by the preceding and illustrated on the maps, the larger Bay area towns urbanized districts are well served by sewer and water systems, Pollution abatement can and probably will be achieved through the upgrading of the existing plants and future demand for sewer service in these urbanized areas can be accommodated to within the limits of the plant's capacity.
Future problem areas concerning pollution control and abatement are, therefore, much more likely to occur in those areas outside the town centers. This represents the overwhelming majority of land in the Bay area. In these areas individual septic tanks are the predominant form of sewage disposal, although "package" treatment plants and special designs are also utilized. The new (1974, rev.1975) State Plumbing Code establishes standards for acceptable types of small treatment facilities. The code permits use of a wide range of small sewage disposal systems and the standards are strict. The problem, however, lies in enforcing these standards as this responsibility rests with the local municipality where the expertise and financial resources to carry out this mandate are less than optimal. The level of expertise required to monitor the larger private package treatment plants is often beyond the capabilities of the small towns. In the opinion of the Bath/Brunswick Regional Planning Commission consultants a "regional pollution control district" is called for to deal with this problem. The consultants make the following points concerning such a district or agency:
Emphasis would be on management rather than control Membership would be at the option of the local community The district would be staffed by trained operators who could serve the whole region Installation of all septic tanks would be overseen by the agency The agency would act to advise developers of the best system for their use The district would act as a central purchasing body and source of equipment Operating expenses would be met by assessment against population served.
Any such "regional pollution control district" would require enabling legislation. Another effort directed toward more effective enforcement is being considered by the State Planning Office. They are seeking to establish an office for a regional code enforcement officer--an expert who could assist communities in dealing with, among other tasks, the enforcement of the State Plumbing Code.
Apparently there is little concern over the adequacy of existing sources to supply sufficient water to the Bath/Brunswick region; yet the consultants suggest that "mini" water supply systems be developed by a public authority to supply groups of houses--the number of homes served being dependent on the supply. This is seen as a better alternative than the gamble an individual well represents to every homeowner.
The map on the next page shows the extent to
which electrical power lines intrude on the Merrymeeting Bay area.
These lines are a fact of life. In many places they dominate the
skyline and to boat users they are particularly visible. They are
visually unattractive and the wires are known to be a hazard to bird
life especially where they span the Chops and Abagadasset Point--once
two of the most attractive locations on the Bay.
The right of way strips for the power lines do, however, provide habitat for upland game species and hunters do utilize the long sight lines these strips provide in deer season. In winter snowmobiles also make use of these rights of way. Central Maine Power Company permits these uses but does not sanction them on the official level.
Little can be done to lessen the visual impact created by these towers and high tension power lines. The right of way strips can, however, be maintained to ensure cuttings and slash. are not piled randomly and obtrusively and certain low or no maintenance ground cover could conceivably be planted. Placing transmissions lines underground is prohibitively expensive according to a Federal Power Commission report, the cost being forty times that of overhead lines.
A report produced for the New England Regional Commission titled
"A Study of the Electric Power Situation in New England 1970-1990"
contains a few points that bear repeating. First, a fourfold growth
in power requirements over the next 20 years is forecast. The basis
for this forecast is not made clear in the report; yet it seems
ridiculous that, given the energy situation in this country and the
fact the population is not going to quadruple, this much demand is
estimated (see Zinder and Assoc. 1970).
The report further states that New England and especially Maine is fortunate to have a cold-water ocean into which excess heat can be disposed. This means that future power plants locating on the coast east of the Bay may well locate new lines near or across the Bay.
The Wiscasset nuclear plant is one such existing example. At present another plant is planned for Sears Island; according to Central Maine Power, current plans for the right of way lines from this facility will be located near Waterville (correspondence with CMP, Feb. 19, 1975).
At present Central Maine Power is known to have options on land on the Kennebec River in Richmond. A new nuclear plant is a possibility here and, irrespective of the effect such a plant would have on water quality, it would certainly be the source of further transmission lines stretching both east and west.
The negative impact radioactive waste emissions would have, through accident or design, from the Wiscasset plant or a possible Richmond plant on life in the Merrymeeting Bay region is beyond the scope of this report. The University of Maine and the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company prepare annual "Environmental Studies" which report on surveys conducted around the Wiscasset plant.
A study of the size of land parcels in the Merrymeeting Bay Study
Area reveals a distinct pattern. First, the majority of land is in
parcels of 50 acres or more. Second, the smaller parcels (30 acres or
less) tend to be clustered around the urban village centers and along
the major roads that link these centers. These patterns reflect both
historical and present day trends. Historically the majority of rural
land was farmland, today this shows up on the map as the predominant
plus-60 acre parcels. Present day trends, however, are towards the
cutting up of these larger farms, especially on those roads that
provide quick and easy access to places of employment. Hence, the
pattern of smaller lots.
There is no distinct pattern to land parcels with frontage on the Bay and its tributaries. There are, however, few large parcels, the average size parcel being about 20 acres. Where local roads are located close to the Bay shore the lots are smaller yet. This is most noticeable where Foreside Road and the Old Bath Road parallel the Androscoggin River shore. The very smallest lots with shore frontage occur at the mouth of the Abagadasset east of the Foreside Road south of Pleasant Point and west of Lines Island off the Varney Mill Road.
It is evident from the above that where access to the Bay shoreline is made easy, more subdivision and small lots occur.
Seen on a town-by-town basis, and again referring solely to those parcels within the confines of the study area, the following observations can be made: In Bowdoin in the Cathance Valley, about 80% of the land parcels are over 60 acres in size. Parcels around Bowdoin Center on Route 125 average between 1 and 15 acres and the same is true of land on the Meadow Road immediately north of the Topsham line. The pattern of smaller holdings (5 to 30 acres) along town roads that is so typical of Topsham, Bowdoinham, and Richmond is not prevalent in Bowdoin either along Route 201 or the Meadow Road.
Since the forces of growth and change (most notably the automabile, the present small scale building and development companies and the nature of zoning) that have produced the above-described ownership patterns have not changed, it is reasonable to predict that large lots--particularly those along the town roads and fronting on the Bay and its rivers--will continue to be split up into smalleu lots. Such a pattern, if left unchecked, could produce mile upon mile of small lots. Not only would this kind of development change the rural character of the landscape but it is unwise in terms of traffic safety, the provision of services, and in terms of the efficient use of land.
In order to determine current real estate trends in the
Merrymeeting Bay area, a telephone survey with knowledgeable real
estate persons was conducted in February 1975. In all, ten agencies
were contacted and were questioned about current general trends and
properties for sale. The results of these direct questions regarding
land and prices are tabulated and mapped on the following pages. It
should be pointed out that the locations of the properties on the
map are not precise and that the prices quoted
are asking prices.
The interviews and an analysis of the properties for sale indicate the follawing:
--There has been marked increase over the recent past in the desirability of Bowdoinham and Richmond as places to live. Good access (by way of I-95), good prices (as compared with
Bath/Brunswick area), and the benefits of rural/village living were cited as reasons for this.
--During the last six months (Aug.1974-Jan.1975) there has been a temporary lull in purchases in the Bay area as compared with coastal property. The reason offered is that the very rich, who can afford coastal property, have not been affected by the recession whereas those interested in Bay property have.
--Evidently the quality of water is an inhibiting factor on some shoreland sales. Real estate agents feel that, propeuty will be more desirable once the quality of the Bay water is upgraded. This was especially true of land bordering the Androscoggin River .
--There appears to be no per-foot-price formula that can be applied to shorefront land. Nevertheless, shorefront property is obviously valuable and the asking price on lots of about 14 acres averaged around S1,QOO/acre (based on three properties, two on the Kennebec and one on the Eastern River).
--Land values at the intersections of I-95 range from $400 to $500/acre (based on information obtained for two large tracts only).
--Land subdivided into one-acre lots on the Androscoggin off Foreside Road and just east of the village of Topsham is presently for sale at prices ranging fram $7,000 (for inland lots) to $16,000 (for riverfront lots). There are unimproved lots. There is reason to believe that these high prices will set a precedent for similarly located property.
--Large wood and farmland parcels in Dresden list at about
$300/acre. Prices for similar land west of the Bay tin Bowdoin, for
example) list at about the same per acre price, indicating, perhaps,
that I-95 has not affected large parcel land prices to any
These statements speak for themselves, It is obvious that a range of types of property is on the market and that both large and small parcels are available (the survey did not record "in-town" or village property values and looked only at rural land). It is also evident if one looks at comparable land prices for, say, five years ago; that farm and rural land values have increased substantially. U. S. Department of Agriculture figures show that this is true of farm prices nationally; farm real estate values increased 13% in 1973 alone for example.
TABLE 6-3 REAL ESTATE PRICES* (1975) Property** No. of Location Acres Price $ Comment 1 155 110,000 Land and old farm 1/2 mile E of 201. 2 225 50,000 Cut over woods and fields N of Beedle Road. 3 100 40,000 At intersection with I-95 (not zoned for commercial use) 4 80 25,000 oodlot in Bowdoin on Route 20. 5 12 14,000 Land with 600 feet frontage on Kennebec. 6 40 26,000 Land with 400 feet frontage on I(ennebec. 7 14 43,000 Old house and barn on Kennebec. 8 90 30,000 Woodlot on Route 201. 9 50 30,000 Old farm on Route 138 and I-95. 10 3 28,000 Service station and mobile home on 201 at 135. 11 100 70,000 Cape with barn on Meadow Road. 12 8 39,500 Cape on Meadow Road. 13 1 30,000 Hunting Lodge on Muddy River with views. 14 60 75,000 Land on Pleasant Point. 15 10 115,000 Large colonial house and 3 cottages, 1200lBay. 16 12 55,000 3 bdrm. house on Foreside Road. 17 10 55,000 3 bdrm. new house on Foreside Road. 18 14 55,000 4 bdrm. house on Foreside Road w/560' frontage. 19 1 +10,000 Various lots. Price range $7,500 to $16,000. 20 27,000 Condominium apartments on River Road (48 units) 21 4 25,000 Land on Blackwater Point, 600' frontage. 22 200 125,000 Overlooks, but not on Bay. 23 12 85,000 3 bdrm. house with 4000' frontage on Bay. 24 84 25,000 Woods and farmland in Dresden near Route 127. 25 25 8,000 Woods and farmland in Dresden near Route 127. 26 44 15,000 Woods and farmland in Dresden near Route 127. 27 3.5 6,000 Frontage land on the Eastern River, 28 13 12,000 200' frontage on the Eastern River. 29 15 20,000 900' frontage on the Easten? River. 30 1 32,500 Restored colonial farmhouse in Dresden Mills. 31 60 60,000 House and land with Kennebec River frontage. 32 40 42,000 House and land with Kennebec River frontage. * The prices listed are asking prices quoted by various real estate agents. These figures were obtained in a telephone.survey conductea in Feb. 1975, *x See Map No. 20. TABLE 6-4 BUILDIG PERMIT DATA 1970 - 1974 Mobile Homes and Single-Family Homes 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 Totals Town MH SF MH SF MH SF MH SF MH SF MH SF Bath 16 1 18 4 5 1 10 17 46 23 95 Bowdoinhaml 10 ? 10 10 10 10 10 12 12 32 52 64 Bowdoin* Brunswck2 16 31 18 36 14 5a 8 48 6 42 62 215 Dresden*3 9 9 Richmond4 ? 2 ? 8 12 15 ? 26 12 51 Topsham 14 35 20 69 15 75 14 34 17 46 80 259 Woolwich* TOTALS 40 84 58 141 55 16S 33 130 52 166 238 684 Notes: 1. The figures for Bowdoinham between 1970 and 1972 are estimates. 2. Brunswick built 48 townhouses in 1973 3. Thirteen new homes were built in Dresden between 1967 and 1971 and 9 mobile homes were located in the town in 1971. 4. The average new home value in 1973 was $23,000 in Richmond. * Figures not available.
Two large mobile home parks, Bowdoin Terrace and an extension to the Crooker park on the Old Bath Road,have been approved. Together these two recent developments will provide about 307 new mobile home lots. Both are located out of town in rural areas and depend on "packaged" private sewage treatment plants.
The residential subdivisions recorded in the state files are Sherred Village in Bath, Parkview Estates: in Brunswick, and the Barrows subdivision in Topsham.
It is evident from the foregoing that development in the Bay area occurs on a small scale with few large "developments" occurring. It is also clear that most of the construction is residential in character.
Interviews with a number of building contractors who operate in the Bay area towns reinforce the above-mentioned findings. The main points brought up by builders were:
--most construction is residential in nature, much of this occurs on one- to two-acre rural lots; the remainder is on smaller lots typically served by a public sewer as against a private septic tank system.
--the majority of builders serving the area operate on a small scale; few build more than ten units per year and most average from 4 to 6 homes.
--these builders build both on private lots for a particular client and on lots they acquire themselves.
--all builders interviewed saw the Site Location Act as a hinderance to their activities and felt that its existence would help ensure that the scattered, one-lot-at-a-time, type development that presently characterizes the area would continue.
--the Manufactured Housing Association foresees an increase in the number of double-wide mobile homes and modular housing units, yet some builders were of the opinion that this type of unit was not acceptable to all.
--many of the aingle-family homes now under construction are being financed throuh Farmers Home Administration loans at a cost of between $25,0a0 and $28,000; little bank financing is available.
--few builders expressed much optimism about the current slw;np in the construction business and there was a reluctance to speculate on the future.
It is interes.ting to compare the ahove findings with those oS t3he state as a whole for 1973-1974. In an October 1974 report by Sherman Hasbrouck of the University of Maine, Orono, titled "Indicators of Housing in Maine 1974;" the following general statements occur:
--despite the current inflation and rising interest rates the volume of new housing is continuing at a strong pace--compared with the pace in the 1960s.
--privately financed new home construction has dropped sharply.
--the Farmers Home Administration has become a major factor in new home financing (see Table 6-5).
--new mobile home purdnases are down 7 to 10% since 1973.
In another study "Program Potential in Housing" prepared for the New England Regional Commission by Real Estate Research Corporation the nature of the housing industry in the Brunswick area is described in this way:
There is no real housing industry...ln the Brunswick area for instance, 'large'' b.uilders were considered to be those who produced 10 to 20 units a year, and of these there were only three that could be identified.
TABLE 6-5 NEW HOUSING IN MAINE 1970-1973 Av. Annual New 1973 Housing Type I Housing 1960-69 1970 1971 1972 (Estimate) Mobile Homes 1500 4000+ 3400 3100 3400 Conventional Homes Famers Home 200 400+ 800+ 1000+ 1000 FHA & VA 200 250 400 400 300 Other 2600 2850+ 3000+ 3500+ 3000 TOTAL 4500 7500 7600 8000 7700 SOURCE: Resource Development Highlights No. 6,1973. University of Maine, Orono.
The preceding chapters on land ownership patterns and real estate
and development trends demonstrate that growth is occurring in the
Merrymeeting Bay area at an accelerated pace. This is a product of a
host of factors not the least of wich is the presence of I-95. Of
particular significance is the haphazard yet relentless growth of new
Yesidences on the so-called rural fringe. Maps 21 and 22 illustrate
The desirability of rural living and rural lots is easily understood. In citizen surveys conducted in the towns of Richmond and Bowdoinham, the desire for a "small town atmosphere" was prevalent (as was the desire for slow growthr Richmond and Bowdoinham Planning Boards 1974 and 1975). Real estate persons interviewed reiterated this sentiment saying that many seek country living and commute to urban jabs. At the national level, surveys also show that people tend to prefer smaller communities (Assoc. of State Planning Officials 1972).
Thus many in the Bay area seek and put a premium on the quality of life offered, yet as the maps illustrate, that goal is ofttimes thwarted by haphazard, unplanned growth. Development in the Bay area has occurred and probably will continue to occur in a piecemeal, leapfrog fashion. Yesterday's rural route with a few scattered farm houses and new homes invariably becomes a linear suburbia.
It is evident that the pressure for growth will continue. The question is how can new development be guided to ensure the "quality of life" that is desired will be enhanced by, rather than destroyed by, succeeding single houses or subdivisions.
The answers are not straightforward. First, the whole issue of the desirability of unarrested growth must be faced. Communities can, as they traditionally have, fling open their doors to all comers (thus hoping to enlarge their tax base), or they can act to slow growth.
Second, once a desired growth policy and rate of growth is defined, they can seek ways to guide that growth to the most desirable areas. Zoning and subdivision laws have traditionally attempted to fulfill this function and, as the record shows, have largely failed.
Controlling the Rate of Growth
The pressures for growth and change have come late to the Merrymeeting Bay area; it was relatively dormant during the 1960s, a period of great change in this country. In those years two maxims were touted: "Growth is inevitable" and "Growth eguals progress" (Assoc. of State Planning Officials Planning Advisary Service 1972).
Traditionally, planners have simply tried to predict, through population projection, what the "inevitable" levels of growth would be, and then sought ways to accommodate it according to a "Plan." This methodology has been questioned of late. The growth equals progress or "more is better" syndrome has also been questioned. "Our country can no longer afford the uncritical acceptance of the population growth ethic that 'more is better'" states the U.S. Commission on Population Growth and the American Future in its report,Population and the American Future (1972). That same report goes on to say..."we find no convincing economic argument for continued national population growth. On the contrary, most of the plusses are on the side of slower growth."
The attitude in the past has thus been that plans should accommodate growth pressures no matter what rather than be policy statements that set standards for a desirable quality of life. In the 1960s, the planners were forever trying to catch up; now many are talking about defining a desirable future and encouraging and influencing only that development that helps achieve those ideals. Current terminology describes this as "managed growth."
Since the concept of managed growth is relatively new, it has not been fully tested. However, a number oflegal vehicles present some possible means for growth control. Bowdoinham, for example, has a moratorium in effect while its comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance is being drafted. The moratoriun is thus an effective, albeit temporary, means of slowing growth.
An alternative to zoning has been proposed for Fairfax County, Virginia. Named Transferable Development Rights, this con.cept to control growth uelies on the adoption of a desirable growth plan and the establishment of potential development rights for residential, commercial, and industrial uses. These rights are allocated to all property owners on a per acre basis within a defined growth. area, Developers then purchase rights from landowners. The usefulness of this system in the Bay area now is, however, questionable. It requires a large professional staff and is geared more to the large scale development practices of suburban Washington, D. C., than to the smaller scale of the Bay towns. It might have more validity weire a regional form of government in effect.
Perhaps more in scale with the present Merrymeeting Bay situation is the idea of controlling development through the location of needed public services, principally sewer and water service. Boulder, Colorado, has, for example, established a "blue line" beyond which water service cannot be supplied; the purpose there is to protect a scenic landscape from being urbanized. It would certainly be to a town's financial advantage to keep the service area limited to a neighborhood rather than strungout over miles of linear roadway (see also Mace and Wicker 1966; Real Estate Research Corp. 1974; McKee 1969; Isard and Coughlin 1957; Muller and Dawson 1972).
The judicious acquisition of open space by a town (through bonds or sales taxes, perhaps) can also be used to guide growth to a degree, as could acquisition at the state level for valued wildlife habitat, for example.
Controlling growth by not extending utility lines has been attempted in some communities as have laws that set population limits. Both are questionable techniques from a legal standpoint because either could be construed as discriminatory. Growth limitations set by environmental factors have greater validity yet are hardly applicable to the low density Bay area situation.
The city of Runapo, New York, has set limits on its rate of growth by tying develolment timing to the availability of city funds, an approved capital budget, and a stringent schedule of implementation.l Upheld by the courts, the Ramapo "timing of development" procedure has merit. It does,-however, rely on a sophistication in administration and planning that may be beyond the capabilities of most of the Bay area towns. Yet, for Bath and Brunswick (possibly in tandem) it has possible application.
This last point, together with those relating to possible discriminatory or exclusionary actions, suggests that growth management should be a regional rather than local concern. Ideally growth controls should be shapped so that all the local communities share responsibilities rather than foist them on their neighbors. In such an arrangement, for example, hazardous yet needed industry can be located in the best regional location and lower income housing development can be distributed throughout the area.
Two other concepts for controlling growth that bear consideration are: Land Banks and Community Development Corporations (CDC). The concept of a statewide land banking system is discussed in A Maine Manifest (Barringer et al, 1972); the same ideacould be put into effect at a regional or local level through a Community Development Corporation or corporations. Land banking is public participation in land buying.2 A local CDC would, under this concept, go intobusiness and "wheel and deal" in land. By purchasing key parcels and retaining ownership but leasing it they could direct and control growth--especially if they could offer an infrastructure of essential utility services.
In sum, it would appear that the towns of the Bay area should individually or collectively establish definitive growth.policies so they can grow selectively, slowly, and methodically--in step with the availability of essential services and funds to provide them. Various means to achieve this end are available and it is apparent that of the concepts discussed, land banks, community development corporations, and utility service restrictions (based on environmental considerations) offer the best immediate answers and that the "timing of aevelopment" procedure should be considered in the long term.
Whereas the foregoing discussion has focused on means to control the rate of grcwth,this section will discuss the means available to guide grawth in an organized and planned manner. This report has shown that haphazard growth is both changing the rural character of the landscape and, because it is unplanned, is creating the very nebulous suburban type development that the home owners probably were trying to esoape from in the first place. This is dramatically illustrated by the diagrams on the following pages. They show, graphically, the pattern of single-family house development on the fringes of Richmond and Topsham from 1957 into the 1970s.
In both instances, whether the pattern is a product of single lot building operations or subdivision activity, the result is the same; a gradual but all too definite progression towards chaos. In Richmond, an important connector road (197) between the village and I-95 is becoming littered with single-family homes, The end
These are some of the reasons why the trends may well continue, although they do not recognize that: - lot-at-a-time construction ton a speculative basis) compared to subdividing invariably involves higher lot costs because the contractor is paying for "frontage" - savings in sewer and perhaps water costs could be made if the land were located near to existing service areas - the accumulative effect of present trends is such that the community looses.and the house in the country becomes yet another house in suburbia,
What,then, are the solutions? Part is education; the majority of persons associated with the development process are unaware of the broader implications of their individual actions. Other solutions range from zoning regulations designed to reward (or provide incentives for) developers through a regional planning agency that could coordinate land provide design review functions) all development submissions. Some of these are discussed hereafter.
Association for State Planning Officials. 1972. Nongrowth as a
planning alternative. Repo+t No. 283. ASPO, Chicago. 65 p.
Barringer, Richard, et al. 1972. A Maine Manifest. The Allagash Group. Tower Publishing Co. Portland, Maine. 23 p.
Bowdoinham Planning Board. 1975. Bowdoinham's comprehensive plan. Town of Bowdoinham.
Community Planning Services. 1970. Sewer and water, 1970, a report for the Bath/Brunswick Regional Planning Commission. Bath, Me. 25 p.
Federal Aviation Administration. 1975. Unpublished data on take-offs and landings at local airports in the Merrymeeting Bay Region. FAA,
Finkler, Earl. 1972. Nongrowth as a planning alternative: a preliminary examination of an emerging issue. American Society of Planning Officials, Chicago. 65 p.
Franklin, Herbert. 1973. Report on legal limits to managed growth. National Conference on Managed Growth, proceedings. Sept, 16-18, 1973.
Hasbrouck, Sherman. 1974. Indicators of housing in Maine. 1974 Housing monitoring system. Cooperative Extension Service, Univ. of Mainel Orono. 28 p.
Higley, Bruce. Letter dated February 19, 1955. From Central Maine Power Company. 2 p.
Isard, Walter, and Robert E. Coughlin. 1957. Municipal costs and Yevenues resulting from community grawth. Chandler-Davis Publishing Co., Wellesley, Mass. 111 p.
Johnson, Huey D. 1973. Report on land banks. National Conference on Managed Growth, proceedings. Sept. 16-18, 1973.
Lamm, Richard D. 1973. Local Growth. IN Equilibriwn, Vol. ,, No. 1. Jan. 1973.
McKee, John. 1969. Coastal development cost-benefit models. Reprint from July 1969 issue of Maine Townsman. Public Affairs Research Center, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine.
Mace, Ruth L. and Warren J. Wicker. 1968. Do single family homes pay their way? A comparative analysis of costs and revenues for public services. Urban Land Institute. Research Monograph 15. Washington, D, C, 47 p,
Maine Department of Health and Welfare. 1974. State of Maine plumbing code, part II, private sewerage disposal regulations. Dept of Health and Welfare, Augusta. 60 p.
Maine Department of Transportation. 1972. Traffic flow map. Maine Dept. of Transportation, Augusta.
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Maine Department of Transportation. 1975. Estimated annual average daily traffic for I-95 and intersecting routes, 1972-2000. Written communication, Jan. 23, 1975, Maine Dept. of Transportation, Augusta.
Maine Department of Transportation. 1975. 1973 Annual daily traffic flows and 1974 estimates for Merrymeeting Bay area. Written communication. Maine Dept. of Transportation, Augusta.
Maine Department of Transportation. 1975. Highway and bridge improvement program, fiscal years 1976-1977. Maine Dept. of Transportation, Augusta. 32 p.
Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company. 1971. Third annual report, Environmental studies. Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co., Wiscasset. 2 vol.
Mentz, John. Bnpubljshed paper. Paper concerning reasons for Central Maine Power Company wanting Richmond as a nuclear site. May 1975.
Muller, Thomas and Grace Dawson. 1972. The fiscal impact of residential and commercial development - a case study. The Urban Institute, Washington , D, C. 140 p.
O'Donnell, John E. and Associates. 1968-74 property tax maps for Topsham, Woolwich, Bowdoinham, and Bowdoin. O'Donnell and Assoc., Auburn, Maine.
Real Estate Research Corp. 1971. Program potential in housing prepared for the New England Regional Commission. April 1971. 162 p.
Real Estate Research Corp. 1974. The costs of sprawl. For Council on Environmental Quality. U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. 3 vol.
Richmond Planning Board. 1974. Richmond's comprehensive plan. Town of Richmond, Maine. 45 p.
Sewall, James W. and Co. n.d. Property tax maps for Bath and Brunswick. Sewall and Co., Old Town, Maine.
Sthal, David E. 1974. Town no-growth stance: repercussions are predicted. The Washington Postr Sept. 7, 1974.
U. S. Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. 1972. Population and the American future. New York: Signet, The New American Library, Inc., and U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D, C.
Varhol, Thomas A. 1969. The Bath-Brunswick Region and DD 963. Bath-Brunswick Regional Planning Commission, Bath, Me. 25 p.
Wright, Pierce, Barnes, and Wyman. 1975. Preliminary sewer study, phase one maps. Unpublished. Wright, Pierce, Barnes, and Wyman, Topsham.
Zinder & Associates, Inc. 1970. Study of the electric power situation in New England for the New England Regional Commission, Sept. 1970. 201 P'