Impact Fee Study


In mid-2017, the City Council adopted Portland's Plan 2030, a new comprehensive plan designed to guide the city’s growth and change over the next ten years. Among the plan’s recommendations is a strong commitment to exploring new ways of funding our critical facilities and services, particularly as they are used by a growing number of residents, workers, and visitors.  

The revenue necessary to build city facilities and provide essential services is generated through a variety of mechanisms – including property taxes, state and federal aid, and outside grants. Portland’s Plan recognizes the possibility of another element in this equation – a systematic means of assessing capital costs when it comes to new growth. This idea is premised on the concept that when development occurs it can bring many benefits, but it also affects the existing infrastructure around it by adding more cars, bikes, and pedestrians to the streets, increasing sewer and stormwater flows into the city’s systems, and infusing additional visitors into the city’s parks and open spaces.  

Currently, the city requires developers to either construct or contribute to infrastructure in a manner proportionate to projected impacts, with analysis conducted on a case-by-case basis.  An impact fee framework for the City of Portland would establish a more predictable, transparent, and equitable way of assessing the impact of incremental growth on public facilities and services, without overburdening any one development. Ultimately, an impact fee system should work better for everyone. 


Impact fees are charges paid by new development to fund the cost of providing municipal facilities to serve that development. Impact fees are widely used throughout the United States to assess the cost of new development’s share of schools; fire and police facilities; stormwater and sewer infrastructure; parks, open spaces, and trails; and transportation systems. Impact fees have been used in some communities in the United States for the past 50+ years.


In the late 1980s, the legislature laid the foundation for impact fees in Maine with the Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulation Act of 1987. In the time since, Maine communities both large and small have developed impact fee ordinances. Brunswick, Freeport, Lewiston, and Scarborough all have impact fees, and although the fees and their specific uses may vary, they are all fundamentally designed as a way for growth to ‘pay its own way.’ 


In late 2017, the Council directed the Department of Planning and Urban Development, in coordination with the Department of Public Works and the Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Department, to begin an investigation of impact fees. This effort, begun in earnest in the early spring of this year, will focus on developing impact fee systems for multi-modal transportation infrastructure, parks and open space, and wastewater infrastructure. The study’s first step is to compile data, including population and employment growth projections, that will serve as the foundation for the impact fee analysis. The analysis phase, where the work of determining the impacts of development on a per unit, per trip, or per square foot basis will occur, will continue through the late spring. Ultimately, a draft impact fee ordinance will be presented to the Planning Board and City Council. The goal is for City Council adoption of an impact fee ordinance in the late summer, with implementation thereafter.

What Are the Major Work Products to date?

Demographic Data and Development Projections Memo (June 5, 2018)


Public Meetings
Over the course of the Impact Fee Study, there will be a series of formal public meetings, including workshops and hearings with the Planning Board and City Council. All are encouraged to attend, and feedback is welcomed.      

- May 17, 2018 Planning Board Workshop - On Thursday, May 17, the Planning Board met for an introduction to the Impact Fee Study. The workshop included an overview of the scope of the study and broad discussion on approach. Read the Planning Board memo here.

- June 5, 2018 Economic Development Committee Meeting - On June 5, the Economic Development Committee met for the first time on the Impact Fee Study. Read the Economic Development Committee memo here.

Stakeholder Group
In addition to engaging representatives of various city departments whose work is related directly to the concept of impact fees, the city will meet with a stakeholder group representing a range of community stakeholders. This group will provide feedback as the city develops assumptions, conducts the analysis, and prepares draft impact fees.   

Questions or comments? Please contact Nell Donaldson at

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