Existing Land Use
The 125-mile length of the byway passes through 22 jurisdictions and diverse topographic features. The byway route is a tapestry of land uses varying from village center, multi-use, commercial and residential to marine industries, agricultural, forested, coastal, rural residential, and back to village center, over and over again. The predominant characteristic of the byway landscape is rural and residential in nature, with village centers and commercial/industrial activities scattered throughout. Industrial uses are typically resource-oriented—wreaths, blueberries, boat-building, seafood processing.
The byway passes through denser downtowns and village centers in Milbridge, Cherryfield, Harrington, Columbia, Jonesport, Jonesboro, Machias, East Machias, Cutler, Lubec, Pleasant Point, and Eastport. Most village centers are compact; Machias and East Machias are the only communities along the byway that contain a predominantly vehicle-oriented commercial strip of development—this occurs at both ends of Machias, and spreads into East Machias.
Coastal Villages – Milbridge to Machias
The byway route begins (from the west) in the village area of Milbridge, a traditional fishing village on the shores of Pleasant Bay and at the mouth of the Narraguagus River. Outside of the town center, Route 1 parallels the Narraguagus River and is characterized by low-density residential development interspersed with undeveloped woodlands and open fields, some of which are actively managed for hay.
Entering downtown Cherryfield, Route 1 crosses the Narraguagus River and quickly passes through the town center, which is within a large historic district. Beyond Cherryfield, Route 1 parallels the Downeast Sunrise Trail, which runs along the edge of the forest with a thin buffer of marshland.
Route 1 passes through a broad open area of active farmland, with a high school and scattered commercial development. Harrington’s village center is predominantly residential, with one restaurant, an antique store, a park, and a library and post office. Several commercial storefronts are vacant. Worcester Wreath Company and a marine shop are located at the edge of the village center. Route 1 crosses water on both ends of Harrington. On the eastern side of the village, tidal marshes are easily visible along the Harrington River in several locations. Gas station/convenience store and auto supply shops are located at the intersection of Routes 1 and 1A.
The stretch of road between Harrington and Columbia contains rural, light residential, and dispersed commercial uses. Route 1 crosses the upper reaches of the West Branch of the Pleasant River at the gateway to the “Four Corners” commercial center in Columbia. Beyond this, predominant land cover is forest and open blueberry land with intermittent, usually small commercial businesses.
Southbound on Route 187 land use is predominantly forest and blueberry fields, with interspersed homes and rural home-based businesses (including agriculture). At Indian River, Route 187 passes through a small historic village area and tidal marsh.
Jonesport perches above Moosabec Reach, with sweeping ocean views from several locations throughout the town, including a park at the town’s western gateway, a small beach near the Jonesport/Beals Bridge, and another small beach at the eastern gateway to the town.
Route 187 northbound from Jonesport passes through a low-lying stretch of land with blueberry barrens, marshland, and scrub forests interspersed with residential and agricultural development on both sides. A long stretch of blueberry land affords a sweeping vista of Mason’s Bay.
Jonesboro is located at the mouth of the Chandler River, and the small village center contains an historic, interpretive park just east of the bridge, where tidal influences on the river are observable.
From Jonesboro to Machias, Route 1 has shoulders and is wider than it is on many other sections of the byway route. The landscape is mainly forest and blueberry barrens, interspersed with residential and industrial uses, includes a MaineDOT maintenance lot, a biomass co-generation plant, and the Whitney wreath company.
The western gateway to Machias is dominated by commercial businesses occurring in a continuous strip-style of development. Commercial strip-style development extends through to East Machias, the eastern gateway of the city. The Machias River passes through the compact, walkable center of town, and small businesses in historic structures are situated along the river. College Hill, the location of the University of Maine at Machias, and Bad Little Falls Park at the bottom of College Hill, offer green spaces to observe the panorama of the city and enjoy vistas of the river.
The Bold Coast – East Machias to Lubec
Through East Machias the byway route wanders along Woodruff and Shipyard Coves, with rocky, wooded hills on the inland side and occasional views of the Downeast Sunrise Trail on the coastal side. Development is mainly residential with several bed and breakfasts and other businesses located in historic homes.
Route 191 South along Holmes Bay and Little Machias Bay wanders along elevated ridges with sweeping views of the water to the south and west. Along the entire stretch of Route 191 from East Machias to Cutler, residential development is light and the dominant landscape features are forests and the bays.
Route 191 crosses the Little River, passing through the heart of Cutler village on the north side of Cutler Harbor. Cutler is a small working waterfront village characterized by historic homes perched above the harbor. On the east side of Cutler village, Route 191 passes through a stretch of low-lying open land with a mix of fields, blueberry land, streams, and marshes. The road then enters a long stretch where preserved forests, held by Maine Public Reserve Lands and Maine Coast Heritage Trust holdings, bound the roadway on both sides.
From Route 191, Route 189 passes southward through small coastal hamlets at Moose Harbor and Bailey’s Mistake, and then through a stretch of inland forest and woodlands (locally known as the Dixie Road).
From West Lubec to downtown Lubec, Route 189 sits on a prominent ridgeline. Ocean vistas, historic homes, and small businesses are set within a largely rural landscape, with increasingly dense residential and small commercial development as the road enters Lubec. The roadway’s position on the line of the ridge offers occasional views toward Johnson and Straight Bay and across Lubec Channel toward Grand Manan. The compact and walkable downtown Lubec offers intimate vistas of historic structures and a working waterfront. The Lost Fisherman’s Memorial Park provides a green space in the center of the action at the edge of the channel with views of the international bridge and Campobello Island.
Cobscook Bay – Whiting to Eastport
Leaving Lubec, Route 189 meets with Route 1 in the small crossroad community of Whiting. Immediately north of Whiting village, Route 1 parallels Whiting Bay. The State of Maine and the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge hold much of the land on both sides of the road in Edmunds Township in conservation. A few scattered residential uses and home-based businesses occur, but forests are the dominant land use.
Route 1 widens slightly through Perry. Forests and low density residential land uses dominate, with a cluster of mixed-use residential and commercial uses near the junction of Route 190 south toward Pleasant Point and Eastport.
The landscape along Route 190 between Perry and Pleasant Point is wooded, with dispersed commercial and residential development. Pleasant Point Indian Reservation is a small yet dense village surrounded on three sides by ocean. Predominant land uses are residential homes or Tribal services (which include educational, religious, cultural, emergency, and governmental uses). A boat landing is located on the south end of Pleasant Point, where the Museum maintains an interpretive panel.
Route 190 crosses causeways through Gleason Cove to Carlow Island and northern Moose Island. Land use on the islands is rural and low density residential. The road is immediately adjacent to the water on one or both sides for significant periods. Several well-used informal gravel turnouts occur along this stretch. A designated, paved turnout with interpretive panels is located at the head of Carrying Place Cove. Route 190 circles the curve of the cove with excellent ocean vistas. Scattered residential and small commercial/industrial uses increase in density as Route 190 turns toward Eastport.
Eastport’s historic village center is dominated by coastal vistas and historic structures in a dense retail center at the edge of the sea. A public pathway along the water and working wharfs in the heart of town provide opportunities to enjoy the panorama and the coastal working way of life.
Historic Development Patterns
Historic development patterns along the byway route include dispersed rural land uses (forestry, agriculture, fisheries, residential, small commercial). Small service centers are mainly located along Route 1. Working waterfronts and dense village centers occur at the peninsula communities of Jonesport, Cutler, Lubec, and Eastport. Historic trends of low-density, dispersed rural/residential development with small, dense community centers are likely to continue, with one exception; the spread of commercial development along Route 1 between Machias and East Machias is likely to continue.
Current land ownership in built-up areas is typically small residential holdings and larger commercial lots. Lots tend to be small adjacent to water bodies. Outside of downtowns and village centers, lots may be as large as several hundred acres or more. Many larger holdings are agricultural and forest land, including blueberry growers and industrial (large-scale) forests.
Expansion and new development of roadside commercial uses mainly occurs near existing commercial development and settled areas. New homes are more often built on municipal roads and along Routes 189, 190, and 191. The absence of excess sewer treatment capacity and/or municipal water in most towns along the byway steers much of the development into denser settlements or high-intensity uses.
In addition, development constraints along the byway route are many, including wetlands, shore lands, areas with steep slopes and the presence of rare and endangered species and significant wildlife habitats. In some cases, these natural constraints act as a natural limit to the extent of development. Conserved lands such as the Baring Division of the Moosehorn NWR reduce sprawl along the byway and retain the natural resources that contribute to its most important intrinsic qualities.
Few communities along the byway route have land use ordinances designed to influence the pattern of development. The only communities with town-wide zoning are Cherryfield, Milbridge, and Eastport. Roque Bluffs, which is an important “detour” community, also has a comprehensive plan and town-wide zoning. Apart from state mandated shoreland zoning, a majority of the corridor towns exercise limited land use restrictions.
Descriptions of the existing land use districts along the byway in these three towns are listed below.
- Down Town Commercial—areas along Route 1 beginning about ½ mile after the start of the byway route to just past the junction of Route and Route 1A.
- Down Town Residential—along Route 1 immediately north and south of the Downtown Commercial district.
- Limited Residential—along Route 1, immediately north of the Downtown Residential district.
- Rural—areas along Route 1 north between the village and Cherryfield.
- Conservation—no areas located along the byway route.
- Historic Village—established to protect an area of approximately 75 acres lying on both sides of the Narraguagus River—located along Route 1 between the junction of Route 182 and the junction of Municipal Way.
- Mixed Use District—along Route 1 from approximately ½ mile north of the Milbridge town line through the village.
- Rural District—from the Milbridge town line north along Route for approximately ½ mile; and the segment of the Cherryfield Stretch (Route 1) near Harrington.
- Rural District—along both sides of Route 190 on Carlow Island; and portions of the east side of Route 190 from between the north end of Moose Island and the airport.
- Highway Business District—along portions of the west side of Route 190 near Quoddy village, portions of the east side of Route 190 across from the airport, a small area near junction of County Road.
- Industrial District—areas on both sides of Route 190 near Quoddy Village; an area on the west side of Route 190 near the airport.
- Downtown Business District—both sides of Route 190 in the downtown area.
Future Land Use
Although change in land use patterns of the Bold Coast region is not dramatic or fast, it is occurring. Each year timber is harvested, and the cleared lots are put up for sale. Each year more land in the region is converted from forest to blueberry fields. Young farmers are moving in and resurrecting, maintaining, or creating new farmland. Home-based businesses increasingly dot the landscape. Some retail businesses grow, some simply change hands, and others close their doors. Wind towers and cell phone towers are being erected. A few homes are rehabilitated, and a few new ones are built each year. These are trends that are likely to continue. Agricultural and forestry uses, marine, industrial, tourism, and commercial fisheries uses will continue as significant economic drivers.
Population projections by the Office of Policy and Management indicate that the general population of Washington County will continue to decrease through 2020, from 33,941 in 2000 to 31,090 in 2020. Individual coastal communities are likely to experience a small amount of growth during this time. Local residents may shift from coastal to inland communities as taxes and real estate values increase in coastal communities. Based on past trends, residential development will most likely be concentrated in coastal communities and inland communities with available lake frontage, while, retail, commercial and industrial uses will occur along Route 1 and in the larger villages.
The aging population of the region has measurable impacts on land use. Coastal Washington County is a popular retirement destination, and younger residents are leaving for employment opportunities. As population is decreasing and age is increasing, household size is declining. Meeting the housing and transportation needs of an older population is at the forefront of many community development goals in local comprehensive plans. Communities recognize the need for more multi-unit and accessory (“mother-in-law”) developments closer to town centers. Construction of single-family, year-round and seasonal dwelling units is likely to continue at a slow but steady rate. Visitors and summer residents are likely to continue slowly choosing to relocate to the region. Residential and tourism development could be accompanied by a corresponding increase in commercial and other service-related development.
There is an abundant supply of existing, unused or under-used, commercial and residential real estate available throughout the byway region. Many of these structures may be too deteriorated to be worth repair, but new development is likely to utilize existing foundations and utilities. Although economic growth is expected to result from increased visitor traffic along the byway, new development is most likely to occur within the bounds of existing development, whether by a complete reconstruction or renovation of an existing structure.
One emerging land use pattern identified in the Downeast Coastal Corridor Management Plan is a shift of new local residential development away from the coastal communities to more inland locations. The high price and declining availability of land along the coast has made inland towns more attractive locations for local residential development. However, most jobs are located along the coast. If more local residential construction does trend inland more commuting-related traffic from inland towns to the coast could be expected. A related pattern is the sale and conversion of large parcels of land previously used for forestry for residential uses. Despite rising property values, coastal communities will continue to increase in their attractiveness to seasonal residents or new retirees.
Municipal Comprehensive Planning – Land Use Districts
Most communities in the byway region have adopted comprehensive plans consistent with Maine’s Growth Management Act. Byway community plans generally express a desire for economic growth that provides needed jobs and services but retains and revitalizes the rural and small-town characteristics.
Local Comprehensive Plans address a range of corridor management concerns such as access management and concentrated commercial development. Most also include goals and strategies that promote safety and economic development, and are consistent with the Bold Coast Scenic Byway Corridor Management Planning process.
The Milbridge Comprehensive Plan (2012) outlines measures to promote the downtown, including construction of additional municipal parking, pedestrian improvements and enrollment in Maine’s Downtown program. Protection measures for rural areas include increased lots size and limiting curb cuts.
Cherryfield’s Comprehensive Plan (2003) includes designation of a village mixed-use area and a rural area and recommends development of specific protection measures for the Cherryfield Historic District.
Harrington’s Comprehensive Plan (2009) adopts a policy “to promote development that is consistent with the historic character of the Village.” The Comprehensive Plan also designates an “Educational/Institutional District” in the vicinity of Narraguagus High School.
Columbia’s Comprehensive Plan (2004) includes a Mixed Use District in the vicinity of “the Four Corners” to accommodate retail and commercial operations with provisions for development of access management policies. The remainder of the land along of the byway in Columbia is designated as rural.
Columbia Falls’ Comprehensive Plan (2001) includes the village – which sits just off the proposed byway route - in the designated growth area.
Addison’s Comprehensive Plan (2007) proposes two districts along the byway route. The Residential-Recreational-Resource District includes areas around the junction with the Wescogus Road and the Basin Road / Indian River area. Among other things, this district protects agricultural and forestry uses and provides open spaces for recreation and habitat. The Residential and Home Business District, which includes the remainder of the byway route in Addison, supports an existing pattern of residential and home based business activities in areas where roads and services are already established. The Plan recommends performance standards for compatibility among residential and business uses, and ensures that agriculture will continue.
Jonesport’s Comprehensive Plan (2010) proposes a number of land use districts along the byway route, including: a Medium Density Residential District and a Residential Mixed Use District between the Village and the Addison town line. The Village/Mixed Use District proposed small lots sizes, and performance standards for “access requirements, parking, landscaping, signage, as well as design criteria to ensure attractive development.” The remainder of the proposed route is included in rural districts “where minimal new development will take place and where existing resources will be protected including agricultural land, forested land, wetlands, scenic areas, and open space.” The Comprehensive Plan includes a list of Scenic Areas and a recommendation to “create a detailed Scenic Inventory that identifies scenic resources in town.”
Jonesboro’s Comprehensive Plan (2008) proposes a Village/Mixed Use district in order “to retain the unique character of the center of the community and to allow for growth in the future near existing services”. A “Low Density Residential/Home Based Business District” west of the Village along the byway places greater emphasis on agricultural uses.
The Town of Whitneyville completed its first Comprehensive Plan (2012) in 30 years. The small section of the Byway route located within Whitneyville passes through a proposed commercial/industrial zone along Route 1 that already supports industrial land uses, and runs adjacent to a resource protection zone.
Machias’s Comprehensive Plan (2007) proposes a number of land use districts along the byway route with a goal of permitting a wide variety of uses appropriate to a vital, pedestrian-friendly downtown, to provide for both pedestrian-friendly businesses and high density residential uses, and to maintain the rural character of Machias. The Commercial District occupies a relatively constrained area between the Roque Bluffs Road and the University. The roadway passes through a Mixed Use District on College Hill and a Downtown District on the north side of the river designed to accommodate a relatively dense level of mixed commercial and residential development compatible with exist land uses. A second commercial district exists on the east side of the Dyke.
The East Machias Comprehensive Plan (1997) designates Village and Rural areas. The Village area extends along Route 1 from near the Machias Town line to the junction of 192 and then along Route 192 to Wiswell Hill Road (approximately). The remainder of the byway route in East Machias passes through the designated rural district.
Machiasport’s Comprehensive Plan (2009) proposes a Rural Residential Area designed to “protect the mix of rural land uses that exist through much of Machiasport including agricultural, low-density residential and forestry uses while continuing to provide for affordable residential dwellings; support home-based businesses; and provide open spaces for recreation and habitat.”
Whiting’s Comprehensive Plan (2004) designates the portion of town through which the majority of the byway route passes as Rural, with some Limited Commercial/Residential shoreland areas. The Rural designation is designed to “maintain the rural character of the town, to protect agricultural and forestry uses, to provide open spaces, and to provide for single family residential dwellings with larger lot sizes. Commercial agricultural and commercial forestry operations will be permitted, as well as limited business use.
Cutler’s Comprehensive Plan (1991) identifies areas “suitable for development” and areas “unsuitable for development.” Most of the proposed byway route is designated as “unsuitable for development.” Identified constraints include poor soils, wetlands, and land held by public agencies (including the US Navy and the Maine Department of Conservation). The most extensive areas along the byway route that are identified as “suitable for development” extend from Holmes Bay to the Little Machias Bay Road, and then again through the village.
Trescott and Edmunds
The Land Use Regulatory Commission regulates land use in Trescott and Edmunds under the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (2010). Community guided planning and zoning in the Unorganized Territories of Washington County will begin in 2015.
Lubec’s Comprehensive Plan (2010) designates rural areas, a West Lubec Village District, and a Village/Mixed Use District, all designed to support the types of land uses that currently exist.
The Dennysville Comprehensive Plan (2003) designates a Rural District designed to maintain the rural character of the town, protect agricultural, forestry, recreational and wildlife habitat; and provide open spaces. No municipal water or sewer is currently available and none is anticipated in the future.
Pembroke’s Comprehensive Plan (2010) designates a Rural Distract along most of the byway. This district is designed to support an existing mixture of land uses and development activity including agricultural; forestry; residential; home based businesses; extractive activities; interpretive trails; nature areas; and high yielding aquifers. The byway route passes through a designated growth area near the junction with Route 214 (from approximately Old Route 1 to Front Street). Performance standards proposed for this area include access requirements, parking, landscaping, signage, and design criteria to ensure attractive development.
Perry’s Comprehensive Plan (2010) proposed a Rural Distract along most of the byway and a designated growth area near the junction with Route 190. However, the Town did not adopt the Comprehensive Plan.
Land use in Pleasant Point is governed by the Passamaquoddy Nation in accordance with tribal law. Pleasant Point does not have a comprehensive plan. Land use in Pleasant Point appears to be compatible with the scenic byway program.
Eastport’s Comprehensive Plan (2004) designates both Rural Areas and Growth Areas along the byway route. All of Carlow Island and most areas on the east side of Route 190 are designated as a Rural Residential area. Mixed Use and Industrial Growth Areas are designated along the byway route in the vicinity of Quoddy Village and on the west side of Route 190 near the airport; and both Residential and Downtown growth areas along the remainder of Route 190.