Beginning with Habitat


Open Space Planning

1. Why Plan for Open Space | 2. Importance of Being Pro-Active | 3. What is an Open Space Plan | 4. Open Space Planning Process | 5. Components of an Open Space Plan | 6. Using BwH in Open Space Plan Inventories | 7. Designating Local Focus Areas | 8. Commonly Raised Public Concerns | 9. Example Plans

The Importance of Being Pro-Active


For the most part, Maine towns have a history of being reactive when it comes to designating or protecting open space. When a well-known farm, favored hunting area, or stretch of coastline goes on the open market, neighborhood residents jump to attention and try to rally elected officials, land trust board members, and state agencies to take notice and save the property. Much time and effort is spent trying to justify the purchase by invoking any environmental cause that may or may not be locally applicable. However, the typical motivating factor is often to simply stop development in the neighborhood. After completing a few of these reactive open space investments, municipalities often find that taxpayer appetites for "taking more land off the tax roles" is diminished by the perceived ad hoc nature of the prior purchases.

Just as a community would be remiss if it were to site a new business park, school or fire department without a well thought out plan in place, preserving open space without a well-articulated vision for how it will shape a town's future can be ripe with unintended consequences. Effective and meaningful open space protection pays for itself, influences the future of a community's growth patterns, and positions a town for successful long-term economic development. Open space planning is not simply finding money to buy land, but should be viewed as a way to engage local citizens in developing a "conservation blueprint" for their town that can be implemented using a variety of tools and results in an interconnected and strategically located system of green spaces that address a variety of shared public objectives.

This section of the Beginning with Habitat (BwH) Toolbox is intended to outline a process that a town can use to develop an open space plan using BwH data as a starting point. It includes tips for community outreach, how to best address common public concerns, and how to ultimately implement plan strategies.

Next: What is an Open Space Plan?

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