Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

September 8, 2021

Report: Southern Maine vulnerable to rising sea level

Photo / PETER VAN ALLEN A rise in sea level could affect coastal areas in York, Wells and Kennebunk, pictured here.

York, Kennebunk and Wells have $645.5 million in property at risk from rising sea levels and are “highly vulnerable” to climate related property devaluation, according to a new report.

The report, “Tides, Taxes and New Tactics,” looked at the effects of coastal flood hazards and suggested ways communities could improve their climate preparedness.

“Development patterns and a relatively old housing stock constructed prior to today’s protective land use regulations place a large number of people and homes, and thus municipal revenue from property taxes, at risk,” said Abbie Sherwin, the senior planner and coastal resilience coordinator for the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission.

Within the three towns, 3,568 property parcels are at risk from 1.6 feet of sea level rise, the level expected in Maine by 2050, according to the report. Since municipalities heavily rely on property tax revenue, the three towns are vulnerable to climate-related property devaluation, the report said.

“Action is essential for communities’ long-term economic, fiscal, social and environmental well-being,” Sherwin said.

The report recommended integrating climate change and coastal flooding considerations in policies, decisions and spending. New development standards also should be adopted such as designating zoning districts by coastal hazards and requiring the elevation of new development structures above flood level. Other recommendations included disclosing hazards for property transactions, enhancing stormwater infrastructure and requiring on-site treatment of stormwater.

The commission, a nonprofit representing 39 towns in southern Maine, held workshops and shared the results with the towns. The report is one of several regional initiatives to assess coastal hazards and plan for adaptation in southern Maine, said Paul Schumacher, executive director of the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission.

“Each of the towns is undertaking individual municipal planning initiatives, including comprehensive plan update processes in all three communities and a climate action plan in York,” Schumacher said.

Sign up for Enews


Nicholas Herold
September 13, 2021

Restrictive zoning has been a blight on this state and a hindrance to its people for way too long. It's past time for the state legislature to step up and end it for Rockland, Camden, and every other town.

Order a PDF