Geography Major David Hediger Makes Plans for Lewiston
Approximately 35 square miles comprise the city of Lewiston, Maine. How that land is used and developed is largely determined by David Hediger, Lewiston's city planner and deputy director of planning and code enforcement.
Hediger, who majored in both geography and environmental planning and policy at UMF, looks at every plan for land development in Lewiston in the context of both economic development and environmental protection.
Among the myriad projects and proposals that will get due diligence from him are those related to Lewiston's riverfront area, comprising views of the city's iconic Great Falls and the historic and now-vacant Building Five of the Bates Mill Complex.
Despite the varying views on what should be done with the prime real estate, "Everyone agrees something needs to happen," says Hediger. But, he explains, there are near and far implications to every decision in city planning: "Whatever happens will impact areas adjacent to the site."
The goal, he says, is to be proactive with planning and zoning regulation that will ultimately help support the continued revitalization of the city's downtown area. But he points to current ordinances that may need to change with the times to better serve public goals. "Our zoning rules now say we can have light industrial use near the city's downtown area," he explains. "It's our role to ask, 'Is that what we really want?'"
While much of his analysis about land development relates to transportation issues - for instance, whether a business seeking approval for the addition of a drive-through service window has the setback necessary to handle increased traffic stacking - Hediger always weighs the impact on people in decisions. (He considers people's ability to sleep, for instance, when a business sited near a residential area requests a permit for increased nighttime hours of operation.)
When it comes to shaping and interpreting policies that determine what people can do with their land, Hediger says there many opportunities for collisions of wills and interests. But Hediger enjoys putting "a premium on customer service," he says. "All of the people we serve, are, at the end of the day, paying our bills and salaries. In whatever we do, we're here to protect the health, welfare and safety of the community."