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 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 issue. 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 negatively. 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 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. Sources The Town of Owl's Head Comprehensive Plan for Coastal Land Use. DEP Issue Profile - Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act World Wide Web sites: NOAA, State of Maine, Federal Department of Environmental Protection, Matthew Bender publication summary. 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, Lewis Publishers. "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, 1971. 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. References 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, 1995, pp.230-231. Smith, Zachary A. The Environmental Policy Paradox. Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1995.