Wednesday, May 22, 2013
For those who care about the future of Maine, including its natural resources and its economy, the proposed changes to the Land Use Regulation Commission raise serious questions.
LURC has managing land use in half of Maine for decades with varying success. Chronically understaffed and overtasked, it is no wonder LURC comes under fire by both those who have had difficulty working with it and those wanting it to do more.
The performance of every state agency can stand to be improved, but this process has to be continual and thoughtfully done. Given the scope of changes proposed under the majority report to L.D. 1798, and the haste with which it is being pressed forward, it's unlikely we will get anything less than a real mess rather than well-thought-out revisions.
Provisions for county opt-out from LURC and commissioner self-appointment under the majority report will result in problems down the road when developers face inconsistent and poorly applied land-use standards. If counties are to take on the task of managing land use, they must be prepared and equipped to do it. Do we really need to multiply the number of agencies dealing with land use in Maine?
Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade, recognizes the need for change, but he also wants it to work. At a public meeting I recently attended, Keschl said he opposed L.D. 1798 as written. The bill has changed, but it still would allow counties to opt out and county commissioners to appoint themselves to LURC.
The minority report to the bill, on the other hand, would not allow counties to opt out.
I want to thank Keschl for his careful and common sense approach to LURC reform and urge him to oppose the majority report to L.D. 1798.