DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Keep LURC.
That’s what Piscataquis County commissioners have advised the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in response to LD 1370, a bill that would dissolve the Land Use Regulation Commission, which regulates zoning and development in the state’s plantations and Unorganized Territory and townships.
Unlike the Millinocket Town Council, which is in favor of the bill and wants to dump LURC, the commissioners said Tuesday they are “adamantly opposed” to the bill and want the agency to stay in place.
LD 1370, an act sponsored by Rep. Henry Joy, R-Crystal, to reform the Land Use and Planning Authority within the Unorganized Territory of the state, was referred last month to the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The committee is expected to hold a work session on the proposed bill at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 13, in the Cross Building. If adopted by the Legislature, the change would take effect July 15, 2010.
On behalf of the commissioners, Piscataquis County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte advised the committee in a letter dated April 27 that without LURC, the land use planning for 98 unorganized townships and two plantations would fall to county government. That would mean the county would have to hire at least three additional employees and assume the associated costs for the responsibilities of planning, permitting and compliance.
While Piscataquis County is the second-largest county in the state, it has the smallest population and those costs would be added to a budget that has more than doubled over the past six years because of fuel and other factors, according to Tourtelotte.
“Adding three positions and associated costs would be overwhelming to the citizens of Piscataquis County,” she said Tuesday.
Tourtelotte said LURC has undertaken significant projects over the past year in Piscataquis County, including the Plum Creek concept plan, First Roach concept plan, the Burnt Jacket Subdivision, the Appalachian Mountain Club Hut system and the Kingsbury Resource Protection Plan.
Instead of dumping a process that is generally working, Tourtelotte suggested the Legislature review what is working and what is broken within LURC, to determine what can be done to serve Maine residents better.
Tourtelotte suggested a review might include revision of the draft Comprehensive Land Use Plan to reflect the vision of the region’s residents and landowners; familiarizing staff with the region; consistency with how the rules are interpreted; and making the process less cumbersome.