Thursday, September 23, 2021

Raymond looks to future with Comprehensive Plan

By Briana Bizier

What do you want your town to look like in five years, or 10 years, or even 20 years? Right now, Raymond residents have a rare chance to answer that very question as the town looks for volunteers to help write a new Comprehensive Plan.

The town’s previous Comprehensive Plan was written in 2004. That document, which is available on the Town of Raymond’s website, was truly comprehensive; it covers topics ranging from descriptions of Raymond’s historical properties and archaeological sites to designating growth areas for new developments and protecting Raymond’s many beautiful lakes and ponds.

Raymond is actively seeking volunteers to
help the town develop a new Comprehensive 
Plan for addressing future growth and
development and protecting the town's
natural resources. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE  
“It’s a pretty encompassing document,” said Rolf Olsen, a current member of Raymond’s Select Board. “It touches on a lot of different areas. Essentially, it looks at demographics, land use, future planning, and future needs.”

While the proposed future Comprehensive Plan won’t change any current zoning regulations in Raymond, it will serve as a guide for the town’s future development. The new Comprehensive Plan, as Olsen explained, will serve as a backbone for new ordinances and development.

One set of decisions that has been guided by the current Comprehensive Plan are Raymond’s zoning regulations. “The last Comprehensive Plan really helped establish the two- and five-acre minimum lot sizes,” Olsen said. “There’s three zones in town. Rural and rural residential have different lot sizes. And then there was the village residential, where we didn’t have to define lot size because it was all full anyway.”

The 2004 Comprehensive Plan’s influence can also be seen all summer long in Raymond’s pristine lakes. Many lakes and ponds in Maine struggle with algae blooms that can make their waters green, turning away swimmers and tourists alike. The 2004 Comprehensive Plan suggested several measures to help prevent algae bloom, like regular septic tank inspections as well as the preservation of any wetlands over two acres in size.

Septic tank inspections and zoning decisions might sound like theoretical discussions with little real-world impact, but recommendations like this help to guide new construction and protect current resources. Ultimately, these decisions shape the future of the town.

For Olsen, the future of Raymond is best placed in the hands of today’s Raymond residents.

“We’re looking for a real cross-section of the population to serve on this committee,” Olsen said. “We don’t want to exclude people from any group - you’ve got the senior population, you’ve got the younger population, you’ve got people on the waterfront, you’ve got people not on the waterfront, people with kids in school - really, there’s no bad person for the committee. The driving thing is people who want to see Raymond survive and go forward in a positive manner.”

The people who do sign up for this committee should be prepared to be part of an extensive process. “There’ll be a lot of work to get done,” Olsen said. “It’s not one of those that will be just one or two meetings.”

When the last Comprehensive Plan was developed in 2004, Olsen said, the final 135-page document was the result of a lengthy process to envision Raymond’s future.

“When it was written back then, it took over a year to get it done," Olsen said. The process of approving the next Comprehensive Plan will likely involve many meetings as well as public hearings. “This plan helps guide a lot of decisions. That’s why it takes a lot of input back and forth.”

However, this is also a chance to make a lasting mark on the Town of Raymond.

“From my standpoint, it’s a chance to look at the old plan, to see what’s valid and what’s not valid, and to help set a course for the next x number of years,” Olsen said. “The people who want to see the town move forward in a positive manner - those are the people you want on there. They’re going to look at all the different things and see how we keep the character and move ahead without shutting anyone out.”

Despite the magnitude of the task, Olsen believes Raymond residents are up for the task of reimagining their town’s future.

“There’s not a lack of talent in this town,” Olsen said. “Although sometimes it’s a matter of getting them to come out.”

If you are interested in service on Raymond’s Comprehensive Plan, please fill out a volunteer application on the town website: <

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