Service Centers

Where is your nearest hospital located? Where do you work? Where do you bring the kids to buy school clothes, visit a museum or swim in an indoor pool? Whether the answer is Waterville, Damariscotta, Dover-Foxcroft, Portland or Presque Isle, the communities where we work, shop, obtain medical care or enjoy a cultural experience are what the Legislature has termed "service centers" or "regional service centers".

Maine is a rural state, but it is dependent on the vitality of these urban places for its economic and social well-being. Accordingly, Maine's Growth Managment Act requires that service centers receive priority consideration for certain state capital investments. DACF's Municipal Planning Assistance Program is responsible for periodically updating the list of service centers.

History and Background

In Maine, as elsewhere in the US, the late 1960s and 1970s was a period of rapid suburbanization. In the late 1970s the State Planning Office (SPO) began to examine Maine's new, sprawling development pattern. By the mid-1990s, there was evidence that 30 years of disbursed growth had major cost and policy implications for the State. It also appeared that sprawl was often driven by fiscal and policy decisions of state government. For instance, state school siting criteria were forcing the abandonment of more compact in-town sites and the construction of new schools on larger, more-distant rural parcels.

In 1997, SPO research into the fiscal and other costs associated with the shifting pattern of development was summarized in The Cost of Sprawl.  That publication pointed to the decline of our service centers as one of the most pervasive and costly effects of sprawl.It also held that revitalizing our service centers is the key to countering those effects.

In 1998, the Maine Legislature's Task Force on Regional Service Centers examined characteristics and problems unique to service centers and, in its report, Reviving Service Centers, recommended strategies for strengthening them.As interest grew in efforts to reduce the effects of sprawl through the targeting of resources to regional service centers, the Legislature enacted legislation requiring a formal process for the identification of those communities.


Service Centers calculated January 2013

Entire Municipality ASHLAND
AUBURN
AUGUSTA
BANGOR
BAR HARBOR
BATH
BELFAST
BETHEL
BIDDEFORD
BINGHAM
BLUE HILL
BOOTHBAY HARBOR
BREWER
BRIDGTON
BRUNSWICK
CALAIS
CAMDEN
CARIBOU
CORNISH
DAMARISCOTTA
DEXTER
DOVER-FOXCROFT
EASTPORT
ELLSWORTH
FALMOUTH
FARMINGTON
FORT KENT
FREEPORT
GARDINER
GREENVILLE
GUILFORD
HERMON
HOULTON
JACKMAN
KENNEBUNK
KITTERY
LEWISTON
LIMESTONE
LINCOLN
MACHIAS
MADAWASKA
MARS HILL
MEXICO
MILBRIDGE
MILLINOCKET
MOUNT DESERT
NEWPORT
NORWAY
OLD ORCHARD BEACH
ORONO
OXFORD
PITTSFIELD
PORTLAND
PRESQUE ISLE
RANGELEY
ROCKLAND
ROCKPORT
RUMFORD
SACO
SANFORD
SCARBOROUGH
SKOWHEGAN
SOUTH PORTLAND
SOUTHWEST HARBOR
THOMASTON
TOPSHAM
VAN BUREN
WATERVILLE
WESTBROOK
WINDHAM
WISCASSET
Urban Compact Areas Designated as Regional Service Centers (Alphabetical Order, 6 total)
CAPE ELIZABETH (partial,see map)
GORHAM (partial, see map)
LISBON (partial, see map)
OLD TOWN (partial, see map)
WELLS (partial, see map)
WINSLOW (partial, see map)

Census Designated Places Designated as Regional Service Centers (Alphabetical Order, 3 total)
DIXFIELD (partial, see map)
FAIRFIELD (partial, see map)
LISBON (partial, see map)