Ellsworth plans for future growth as population booms and retail development slows

In the late 1990s a Boston-based developer cleared 45 total acres on both sides of Myrick Street in Ellsworth, hoping to develop it into a dozen or so retail stores, but only two were built. Even though the city’s dreams of retail expansion has not lived up to what developers once expected, its population has grown by leaps and bounds.

Since 1990 it has grown 40 percent. By comparison, Maine’s statewide population has risen nearly nearly 11 percent in that same time period.

The city’s continued growth – to the extent that it is predictable – will get renewed public attention over the next year or so as Ellsworth updates its comprehensive plan for the first time since 2004. The comprehensive plan, which the state requires municipalities to update every so often, is expected to help the city manage its growth by updating its zoning ordinances, prioritizing infrastructure upgrades, and evaluating services that it does or should offer, among other things. Municipalities are mandated by state law to have a comprehensive plan if they adopt zoning that exceeds the state’s minimum shoreland setback requirements, if they impose impact fees, or if they set caps on development.

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