Research Paper On Maine's State Policies
The Coast, Shoreland Zoning & Its Impacts Natural resources
are a vital part of our environment today. The Earth is
composed of a diverse group of natural resources. One
critical natural resource to the state of Maine is its
enormous and vast coast. Maine's 200 mile long coastline
stretches from Kittery , in the south, to Lubec, in the
north.(MDECD,p.2) This 200 mile long coastline provides a
place for recreation, living, and business for tourists and
Maine residents. The coastline includes not only the sandy
beaches, but also the rocky sections of the coast. Managing
this vital natural resource is an area of concern among
state officials, residents and tourists. In order for this
resource to survive and exist, preservation and management
of the coast must be implemented. Coastal zone management
is the process by which Maine's and other state's coasts
are managed. As previously mentioned, the coast provides
made with an enormous amount of money through tourism and
business. The coast of Maine also provides r!
esidents of the state with a place to live. Maine's coastal
towns are responsible for over 50% of the entire state's
population.(MCP,p.3) This large percentage of people goes
to prove that the coast is the provider of a livelihood for
a majority of people throughout the state. The problem,
thus, arises if the coasts were no longer there for
utilization. This is why the state has implemented a
coastal zone management program.
Along with the federal government, the state of Maine has
implemented a plan to manage this natural resource. This
plan manages several different aspects of the coasts.
Included in these coastal aspects is shoreland zoning.
Shoreland zoning also has a policy within the federal and
state governments. Briefly, shoreland zoning is what can be
built, taken down, or done on or around the coastal zone.
As with many other statutory policy comes conflict. This
conflict is in the form of special interest groups,
especially environmental groups versus business and
economic groups versus Maine residents. These three
factions are concerned with what goes on policy wise
because of their different areas of interest. One group is
looking out for the environment, one is looking towards the
financial gains, and the final group looks for a place to
live. The state still has a hard time pleasing all of these
parties when it comes to establishing policy for coastal
management. Consequently, coastal zone management along
with shoreland zoning are natural resource management
issues the state has had and is currently battling with.
First, some of the previous terms discussed need to be
defined to get a clearer understanding about the issue of
coastal zone management. Where is the coastal zone? The
coastal zone is not just the sandy and rocky coastline of
the state. The coastal zone as defined by J.D. Hansom,
"...includes the land-sea-air interference zone around
continents and islands and is defined as extending from the
inland limit of tidal or sea spray influence to the outer
extent of the continental shelf.(Beatley,p.12)" Simply
stated, the coastal zone extends inward to where ocean
waters touch to a specific distance outward into the ocean
floor. The state of Maine goes into greater detail in
defining the coastal zone. According to the state of Maine,
the coastal zone includes anywhere within 250 feet of fresh
or saltwater. For the purposes of this discussion, the
focus will be put on the saltwater boundary. Shoreland
zoning ties directly into the coastal zone management
practice. Shoreland zo!
ning is the regulating of the land within this 250 mile
coastal zone. This form of zoning regulates what can be
built or destroyed there. Construction not only includes
buildings, but also parks, roads, and parking lots. This
coastal land is regulated so that the coastal zone will not
be harmed in any way. This will not only protect the
beaches, but also the different species of plants and
animals that inhabit, the water quality within the zone,
the diverse habitats in the zone, and the business
opportunities in and around the coastal zone. These
business opportunities care in the form of commercial
industry and the tourist enterprise.
Who is in charge of all of these activities? The federal
government is the original branch of government that
started the environmental ball rolling. The federal
government decided that there was a need for a Coastal Zone
Management Act. This federally mandated act requires that
the state adhere to their minimum standards. The individual
state, then, has the opportunity to adopt stricter coastal
zone management standards. As for the shoreland zoning,
each state is required by federal law to set a minimum
sample plan for the coastal towns. These coastal towns are
responsible for creating and implementing their own
shoreland zoning act. This Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act
does not just include the shore of saltwater areas, but
also freshwater. However, for the purposes of this paper
the ocean will be the focus. The state agency in charge if
policing these laws is the Maine State Department of
Environmental Protection. As previously stated, the town
government's only responsibility is to create and implement
the laws. There are several interested governmental
agencies involved with coastal zone management. The
Department of Conservation, Department of Fish and
Wildlife, Department of Commerce and Trade and as mentioned
earlier the Department of Environmental Protection. All of
these agencies have interests economically (commerce and
trade), ecologically (conservation and wildlife), and
environmentally (environmental protection). Government
agencies are not the only groups who have an interest in
coastal management. Several special interest groups have
their foot in the ring in this particular natural resource
The special interest groups involved with coastal
management, specifically shoreland zoning, have the same
basic interests as the government agencies do. Economics,
ecology, and environmental protection are these basic
interests. One group that has an economic interest is the
real estate industry. This part of industry is the section
that buy and sell coastal properties. Another sector of the
coastal property interest is any construction company.
These construction companies have a particular interest in
these shoreland zoning laws because this means work for
them. They need to make money in order to survive in this
world. Construction in and around the coastal zone is
extremely important to them. The tourism industry also has
an economic industry. This industry ranges from hotels and
motels to restaurants to amusement parks to public parks to
parking lots. All of these tourist centered factors rely on
the coastline as a source of revenue. A final economic
dependent industry that relies on the coastline is the
fishing and aquaculture industry. It makes a big difference
to people in this field on what they can do to the coast in
order to make a living. Economics seem to be a very strong
point in the coastal zone management issue for Maine. The
Maine policies were and are established so that these
business ventures can still prosper while still preserving
and protecting the natural environment.
Ecological and environmental protection of the coastline
are the other two basic interests. These two interests have
shared groups within each other. The Maine Audobon Society,
Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Maine Coastal Heritage
Trust, Natural Resources Council of Maine and other smaller
interest groups all have a shared concern about this
natural resource. Some of these groups buy up pieces of
land to preserve and conserve. They buy these parcels of
land so that nothing will be developed and the integrity of
these plots will remain intact. Some these groups are
concerned with what development will do to the different
species of plants and animals. These groups feel that if
something is developed or destroyed the species will suffer
The interest that appears to stick out above the rest is
the economic interest. Since Maine relies on the coast for
a large percentage of state revenue, it is necessary to
protect this natural resource. Protection is deemed
necessary to keep the state financially sound. The state
would lose millions and millions of dollars if the
coastline would disappear. The coastal policies are made so
that these economically interested events can take place.
It is a good thing that the government not only looks at
the coast from an ecological and environmental point, but
also from an economic point.
Maine's Coastal Zone Management Act was not enacted until
1986. This was fourteen years after the United States
government adopted the federal act. The state act set up
nine different areas of concern. The nine areas were port
and harbor development plans, marine resource management,
shorelines and shoreline access, hazard area management,
state and local efforts, protection of natural and scenic
areas, opportunities dealing with the outdoor recreation
and tourism, water quality, and finally air quality. These
nine areas were set up by the state government because it
was found to be urgent to make policies regarding these
topics about the coasts. Although the Maine Coastal Zone
Management Act was not adopted until 1986, the Maine
Shoreland Zoning Act had been adopted in 1971. This was one
year before the federal CZMA and thirteen years prior to
the statutory CZMA. This just goes to show that Maine was
already thinking about its coasts and its protection before
the United States Government ever got its act together.
This 1971 Act has been revised many times.
The Act with the recent amendments and revisions establish
strict shoreland utilization standards. This Shoreland
Zoning Act requires "a minimum lot area and frontage,
building and structure setbacks from the coastal area,
restrictions of plant and tree clearing, harvesting of
timber regulations, erosion and sedimentation control,
sewage disposal, and other provisions for non conforming
use." The Act divides the shoreland into three specific
zones. These zones are protection districts, limited
residential and recreational districts, and general
development districts.(Kelley,p.108) The first zone,
resource protection, includes any area in which the natural
resource needs protection. these areas may include the
marsh areas and wetlands. Restrictions within this area
usually prohibit any form of construction. The second area,
limited residential and recreational districts, include
most of the other coastal area. The state restirctions for
this area is "no construction within 75 feet of normal high
water." The zoning regulations go even into greater detail
with this district. The state requires that "the structure
shall not cover more than 20% of a lot and that the first
floor be two feet above the high water mark for the past
100 years." These two regulations were established so that
buildings were not erected and then swallowed up by the
sea. The third and final zone is the general development
district. This district requires than areas bigger than 2
acres be set aside for business or residential expansion.
The third zone is a clear indication that the state is
concerned with economic factors as well as environmental
factors. All of these state standards are minimum
requirements. Local coastal governments have the option to
set stricter policies if they so chose. All of these
governmental actions affirm the belief that the state is
working with all groups in order to attempt to satisfy all
of the interested parties.
The governor of the State of Maine has established a group
of local citizens to develop these types of policies. This
compilation of people have interest in all three fields.
The chief executive of the state has brought together
citizens, business leaders, environmental organization
representatives, and appointed public servants to create
policy ideas about these coastal zone management issues and
other environmental issues. The Maine Environmental
Priorities Project is a well represented board that deals
with the human factors when making policy. The group looks
at the health of the human population as well as the other
natural population. They also look at the quality of life.
Having all of the different interest groups represented on
this board allows for an equal and fair opportunity to get
a wide variety of environmental policies agreed to.
The creation, establishment, implementation, and
enforcement of coastal zone management and shoreland zoning
allows Maine to thrive economically and environmentally.
These policies established by federal, state, and local
governments allow equitable treatment towards all of the
interested parties. These policies have the potential to
satisfy the economic, environmental, and ecological groups.
However, as with any type of policy, consensus cannot
always be met. When consensus is not met, compromise rules
the table. Compromises are made to somewhat satisfy both
sides of the spectrum. If these management practices were
never created, Maine's coastal area would be in deep
trouble. Not only would the coastline be in literal deep
water, but the state's economy would be in deep figurative
water. It all boils down to money. The health and state of
the coast determines the health and state of the local
economies. Coastal zone management is an ever changing
natural resource issue and with are coastline changing
everyday, the policies will continually be changing.
The Town of Owl's Head Comprehensive Plan for Coastal Land
DEP Issue Profile - Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act
World Wide Web sites: NOAA, State of Maine, Federal
Department of Environmental Protection, Matthew Bender
Coastal Management Techniques - "A Handbook for Local
Officials" , Maine Department of Economic and Community
Development, October 1988, Eastern Laser Printing.
Coastal Choices: Deciding Our Future, Maine Coastal
Program, 1988, Twin City Printery.
Coastal Zone Management Handbook, John R. Clark, 1996,
"The Cumulative Impacts of Development in Southern Maine:
Management and Cumulative Impacts: An Analysis of Legal and
Policy Issues.", Maine State Planning Office, November 1986.
An Introduction to Coastal Zone Management, Timothy
Beatley, 1994, Island Press, Washington D.C.
Living With the Coast of Maine, Joseph T. Kelley, Alice R.
Kelley, and Orrin H. Pilkey Sr. Duke University Press, 1989.
National Shoreline Study: Regional Inventory Report; North
Atlantic Region, United States Army Corps of Engineers,
Coastal Priorities Statement, Maine Coastal Program, 1994.
State of Maine Guidelines for Municipal Shoreland Zoning
Ordinances, ME Department of Environmental Protection, 1994.
Maine Environmental Priorities Project Mission Statement.
Casco Bay Esturary Project Plan, Fall 1995.
Britton, Peter. "How Canada is Tapping the Tides", Popular
Science, January 1985, v.226, pp.56-60.
Fay, James. Harnessing the Tides, Technology Review, July
1983, v.51, pp. 51-57.
Middleton, Nick. The Global Casino, Edward Arnold, London,
Smith, Zachary A. The Environmental Policy Paradox.
Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1995.