The Highlands Act creates a framework for regional planning as a means to protect the important natural resources in the Highlands and will complement and strengthen the land use planning efforts of municipalities and counties. After the adoption of the Regional Master Plan (“RMP”), municipalities and counties will have the opportunity to revise and conform their local master plans and development regulations to the goals, requirements and provisions in the RMP. This process will provide strategic opportunities for communities to consider the cumulative and regional impacts in local land use decision making. Accordingly, municipalities and counties are crucial stakeholders to the success of the Highlands Act.
There are 88 municipalities and portions of seven counties in the Highlands Region. Of these 88 municipalities, 5 are entirely in the Preservation Area, 36 are entirely in the Planning Area, and the remaining 47 communities are in both areas. In order to achieve a regional approach to land use planning, the Highlands Act provides benefits and incentives (including planning grants, legal protection, and State funding prioritization) which are available to counties and municipalities that conform to the RMP. Planning Area municipalities and counties that voluntarily conform to the RMP are eligible for the some benefits and incentives created for the Preservation Area.
Highlands Region Municipalities:
The Highlands Council has grant programs to provide funds for projects that promote the goals of the Highlands Act or further the Regional Master Plan.