Greenville, Maine—The task force charged with examining the future of the Land Use Regulation Commission voted today in Greenville to recommend drastic changes to zoning and planning practices across Maine's North Woods. The group, which will make its recommendations for changes to the legislature in January, agreed to propose the expansion of LURC to a nine-member board, with six of those seats going directly to county commissioners or their appointees.
"Putting county commissioners in the majority of the seats on the Land Use Regulation Commission puts our North Woods in serious danger," said Alexandra Fields, preservation associate at Environment Maine. "Protecting Maine's natural heritage requires a statewide perspective that is simply not represented by county officials."
The task force's proposal would enlarge the LURC board but reduce the number of commissioners appointed by the governor for their planning and development expertise from seven to three. The other six seats would be filled with one county commissioner each from the six counties in the state with the most geographic area in the North Woods. The task force also will recommend giving the counties the ability to "opt out" of LURC three years after reform legislation goes into effect.
"Maine's North Woods is the largest unbroken forest east of the Rockies, a unique place where generations of Mainers have learned to love the outdoors," Fields said. "Putting our special places directly in the hands of county officials--be it by allowing counties to opt out of the rules protecting the Woods or by filling LURC's seats with county commissioners--disregards the fact that we all have a stake in the future of the North Woods and threatens our ability to protect them for future generations to enjoy."
The task force, created by the legislature last session, has met five times this fall and will present its recommendations when the legislature returns in January. It will meet one more time to finalize its recommendations on Thursday, December 1, in Bangor.
Environment Maine is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to preserve Maine’s open spaces, protect clean air and water, and steer the state toward a clean energy future. www.environmentmaine.org