Panel to address feedback on land-use plan for UT

Posted Sept. 08, 2008, at 8:52 p.m.

State regulators will be in Bangor on Wednesday to review the large amount of public feedback they received on proposed changes to the planning document that guides policy decisions within the Unorganized Territory.

The Land Use Regulation Commission heard from hundreds of people last spring on the proposed alterations to the agency’s comprehensive plan, which is typically updated every 10 years.

Some of those comments praised the LURC staff’s work, most notably for the recognition that unguided development poses a threat to the environment and the economy of rural Maine.

But many comments underscored the often tenuous relationship between LURC and the people who live, work and recreate in the 10.4 million-acre Unorganized Territory. Critics accused the commission of attempting to lessen the importance of forestry and natural resource industries, of putting “primitive” recreation above mechanized recreation, and of exaggerating the threats from development.

On Wednesday, the commission’s seven-member board will discuss those comments and a list of proposed changes to the draft comprehensive land use plan, also known as the CLUP. The discussion is part of the commission’s monthly meeting, slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Spectacular Event Center in Bangor.

The next step in the process is for the commission to formally release a draft of the CLUP update followed by a series of hearings and a public comment period.

In a summary of public comments being supplied to the commission, LURC staff suggest some wording changes to address criticism of the current draft.

In one specific recommendation, LURC staff are advocating removing a list of possible options to address concerns about sprawling, unguided development.

“They have been interpreted to represent initiatives that we are committed to undertaking rather than as examples to explore,” LURC staff wrote. “Since they were merely listed as ideas and have become the focus of much confusion, we do not feel that much is gained by their inclusion.”

LURC staff also compiled a series of formal responses to what they say is misinformation being fed to the public by several organizations opposed to the recommended changes to the CLUP.

In the responses, the staff rebut statements that the draft comprehensive plan eliminates any focus on economic development and promotes primitive, backcountry recreation over recreation involving ATVs or snowmobiles.

All documents are available on the commission’s Web site at www.maine.gov/doc/lurc.

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