Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I want to urge my representative, Pat Flood, R-Readfield, to oppose legislative attempts to weaken the Land Use Regulation Commission.
L.D. 1798 poses serious threats to Maine's North Woods, the largest forest in the East at 10.4 million acres. The North Woods is an integral part of Maine's brand and economy, as well as the foundation of the state's hunting and fishing industries.
The majority report to L.D. 1798 would allow counties to opt out of LURC after five years. LURC was created 40 years ago to provide statewide oversight over a statewide resource, the North Woods. Allowing counties to opt out of LURC undermines this statewide vision.
The majority report also would allow commissioners from the eight counties with the most Unorganized Territories to appoint themselves to the LURC board. Putting county commissioners in charge of LURC and the North Woods will transform county commissioners into extremely powerful, highly political, well-funded politicians.
Both of these reforms would increase the power of county government, which does not have the capacity to perform LURC's duties.
I lived in Piscataquis Country for seven years. Based on my experiences, I believe that the minority report on L.D. 1798, which makes reasonable changes to respond to concerns about the Land Use Regulation Commission, is much better for Maine. It would increase the responsiveness of the agency, lead to more regional planning, and ensure greater local involvement in LURC decision making.
As a fellow member of the Kennebec Land Trust, I know that Flood understands the importance of these industries to our economy. Therefore, I urge him to oppose the majority report to L.D. 1798 and instead support the minority report when it comes to a vote in the House of Representatives.