Formula Business Restriction – York, ME

At a town meeting in May 2004, residents of York, Maine, voted to amend the town’s zoning ordinance to prohibit formula restaurants. York is a coastal community of 13,000 people about ten miles north of the New Hampshire border. The measure, which was endorsed by the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen, notes that York has retained a large concentration of historic buildings and locally owned businesses, and that the town’s unique character is important to York’s “collective identity as a community.”

Amendment #9

Fast Food & Formula Restaurant Prohibition

Document:  Zoning Ordinance

Impact Statement:  The historic character of York is unique, and is important to the people of the community and their collective identity as a community. Far more than most communities, York retains a large concentration of historic structures, which are integral to the fabric of the community.  York is also traditionally home to small, locally owned and operated businesses.  In these senses, York has maintained its identity in a manner unique in the region.  To help protect its unique character, the Planning Board proposes the following amendments to ensure that restaurant businesses in York respect the character of the community and do not create undue impacts in terms of noise, litter, traffic and other adverse impacts.  This policy is consistent with the policy direction of the Comprehensive Plan and is expected to have no significant fiscal impact on the Town.

Amendment:  Amend definitions in Article 2 as follows:

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT:  A restaurant with drive-up window service, or that otherwise receives payment and/or dispenses products to patrons while in their vehicles (such as a drive-in restaurant).

FORMULA RESTAURANT:  Formula Restaurant shall mean a restaurant that stands alone or with other use(s), and which prepares food and beverage on site for sale to the public, and which is required by contractual or other arrangement to offer any of the following:  standardized menu, employee uniforms, interior and/or exterior color scheme(s), architectural design, signage or similar standardized features, or which adopts a name or food presentation format which causes it to be substantially identical to another restaurant regardless of ownership or location.

Amendthe Use Tables and associated footnotes of Article 4 for each of the base zoning districts by inserting  “formula restaurant” as a use and prohibiting that use in every case, and use footnotes to address the fast food restaurant and formula restaurant whether principal or accessory uses, as follows:


60 The use limitations pertaining to “fast food restaurant” and “formula restaurant” shall apply whether the use is a principal use or an accessory use.

Recommendation: Recommended by Planning Board:  4-1 and by Board of Selectmen:  3-2

More Information:

Avatar photo
Follow Stacy Mitchell:
Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.