Population growth in wilderness areas outpaces rest of Maine
By Associated Press
Monday, March 12, 2007 - Updated: 12:55 PM EST
Maine - When it comes to building homes, more and more people are
apparently developing a taste for Henry David Thoreau’s ”tonic of
wilderness,” according to a survey by the Land Use Regulation
growth in Maine’s unorganized territories is outpacing the rest of
Maine, and the homes that are being built aren’t just on the fringe of
towns and cities but deep in the woods, according to the report created
commission is studying trends in the unorganized territories as it
prepares a 10-year update of its comprehensive land use plan.
”Patterns of Change” study found that the year-round population in the
unorganized territories grew by about 5 percent between 1990 and 2000 _
compared to 4 percent for the state _ while the number of housing units
grew by 16 percent.
than half of the new homes built in unorganized territories from 1971
to 2005 were built far away from regional service centers, the report
said. Of concern to the Natural Resources Council of Maine is that 72
percent of homes built during that period were constructed without any
formal review process.
think what we are seeing is wilderness sprawl,” said Cathy Johnson,
director of the council’s North Woods Project.
movement of population away from areas with services such as police,
fire and hospitals can be problematic, said Caroline Eliot, a LURC
commission’s analysis found that 45 percent of new dwellings built
between 1971 and 2005 are located in only 21 townships characterized as
being near both a service center and high-value natural resources.
The rest of the homes built during that period were dispersed throughout the territories.
get to the point where you have to build redundant infrastructure ...
and you are extending the service region,” Eliot said. ”That is not a
particularly efficient model for the delivery of services.”
Nonetheless, there’s demand for homes in these wilderness outposts.
northern Somerset County, a subdivision of lots greater than 40 acres
was created in an area with no roads and no power on former timberland,
said Eliot. More than 120 building permits have been issued for that
subdivision, she said.
”It shows that there is a demand for wooded lots in the middle of nowhere,” she said.
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