Great American Neighborhoods

Description: This website is built around the 2004 publication, The Great American Neighborhood: Contemporary Design Principles for Building Livable Residential Communities, which is available for download.


Over the past several decades residential developers in Maine have built roads, subdivided land, and sold lots. The size of the lots, the design of the roads, and indeed the quality of the places being built have been largely dictated by zoning and subdivision ordinances. By and large, this process has not created neighborhoods in the traditional sense. This guide provides residential developers, homebuilders, and town officials with a set of principles and design ideas that can be used to create the livable, quality neighborhoods that homebuyers are looking for. When adapted to fit specific sites and projects, these principles can help developers respond to these market preferences, stem sprawl, and direct growth to selected ‘growth areas’ within the community. The case studies and real world examples in this guide will help you understand the elements that make up vibrant, marketable, traditional neighborhoods. The principles in this guide apply to small ‘infill’ projects and compact new neighborhoods as well as to large, multi-year developments. The key is to see each project as part of a community building process, where all new homes, streets, and open spaces contribute to the betterment of the neighborhood because they follow good design principles.


The Maine State Planning Office’s Great American Neighborhood initiative is intended to encourage the creation and restoration of traditional neighborhoods (typical of New England villages and trolley suburbs). The initiative includes the development and release of both a Design Guide for homebuyers, homebuilders, and developers and a Municipal Handbook for Maine communities that wish to ensure that local ordinances encourage, and don’t discourage, this type of traditional neighborhood development (many of today’s local ordinances outlaw, through lot size, setback and road frontage requirements, the types of neighborhoods typical in a New England village.) Another important part of the initiative is an Education Campaign designed to reach the home-buying market in Maine ¬– nearly 40% of which (our homebuyers survey indicates) are likely to buy their next home, if one were available, in a Great American Neighborhood.

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Source: Maine State Planning Office
Date: 2004
Format: Website

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