Sprawling development in Maine’s growth areas continues in spite of the state’s emphasis on comprehensive planning over the past 20 years. In this article, the authors present some lessons to be learned from Scarborough’s Dunstan Crossing project, a planned development which would have incorporated many of the goals of the national “smart growth” movement. The project was approved by the elected town council (one of whom is co-author Sylvia Most), and it was in compliance with Scarborough’s town comprehensive plan. Nonetheless, the project for now has effectively been blocked after a lengthy period, described here, that saw a citizen referendum, lawsuits, mediation, and many kinds of public participation. Based on the Dunstan Crossing experience, the authors make recommendations regarding the state’s Growth Management Act, about more effective regional planning, and more generally about how to structure public participation in potentially contentious projects.

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