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New Gloucester (Town), Maine

The Town of New Gloucester, population 4,803, is located in Cumberland County, in Southeastern Maine. The United Society of True Believers settled this area in 1793 and remnants of these pioneers can still be found at Shaker Village on the border of Cumberland and Androscoggin counties. The Maine Turnpike (Interstate 495) separates Shaker Village, Sabbathday Lake and surrounding farms in the western third of the Town from the developing center of the Town, which contains the villages of New Gloucester and Upper New Gloucester.

In December 2004, the Town of New Gloucester adopted a TDR ordinance designed to preserve agriculture, forestry and other large undeveloped acreage while promoting development within designated growth areas. In the New Gloucester program, TDR sending and receiving areas are mapped in the zoning code (see map below.) TDR applies in these areas by overlay zoning.

There are two sending areas. One is all the land west of the Maine Turnpike. The other sending area includes all land in the Town lying east of the Royal River. Sending area sites must have at least ten acres in common ownership. Within the mapped sending area, sending sites must either be undeveloped or used for active agriculture or forestry. Outside the mapped sending area, parcels can still qualify to become a sending site if they have been used for active agriculture for at least five years.

To determine the number of TDRs available for sale, the sending area landowner provides information allowing the Town to determine net developable acreage by reducing the total site acreage by the number of acres with water bodies, flood plains and wetlands. This net acreage is divided by the TDR density, or the number of TDRs allocated per developable acre. 1) Where the underlying zoning allows onsite development of one unit per five acres, the allocation rate is one TDR per two acres. (This creates a transfer ratio of 2.5 to 1.) Where the underlying zoning allows onsite development of one unit per two acres, the allocation rate is one TDR per one acre. (This creates a transfer ratio of 2 to 1.)

Sending site owners are allowed to sell some or all of their development rights. If they choose to sell only some TDRs, they must place a conservation easement on a portion of the sending site proportionate to the number of TDRs to be created for transfer. Once the conservation easement is recorded, the Town issues a TDR Certificate which the sending site owner can then transfer to a developer or any other party. Whenever TDRs are transferred, the Town must issue new TDR Certificates in the name of the new owner.

The developer of any parcel at least ten acres in size in the mapped receiving area can use the TDR option. Receiving area developments are allowed twice the density that would otherwise be allowed as long as the environment can accommodate the higher density and as long as the developer produces the required number of TDRs. The bulk of the receiving area has an underlying zoning of Rural Residential: a density of one unit per two acres without use of the TDR option and a density of one unit per acre when TDR is used.

The New Gloucester TDR Program only became official in February 2005. The Town has prepared informational items for landowners and developers. The Town has also made it very easy to access TDR information on its web site.