LURC reform group to convene Thursday in Bangor

Posted Sept. 20, 2011, at 7:17 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A task force charged with recommending ways to improve planning and permitting in the Unorganized Territory will hold its first meeting here Thursday.

The panel is an outgrowth of debate over whether to reform the Land Use Regulation Commission or to entirely revamp oversight of the more than 10 million acres within LURC jurisdiction.

State lawmakers created the 13-member task force after it became clear that a bill to return many of LURC’s responsibilities to county governments did not have enough support to pass the Legislature. Instead, the LURC reform panel is expected to present a list of recommendations to the Legislature in time for the 2012 session.

Thursday’s meeting will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Husson University’s Center for Family Business in Bangor. The meeting is open to the public, although the panel is not expected to seek public feedback at that time.

Bill Beardsley, who oversees LURC as commissioner of the Maine Department of Conservation, is co-chairman of the panel. The 12 other members were selected by Republicans Gov. Paul LePage, Senate President Kevin Raye and House Speaker Robert Nutting.

Some observers, including representatives of environmental organizations and Democratic lawmakers, have voiced concerns that the panel membership was crafted to produce a recommendation to abolish LURC. But numerous task force members — including those who supported past measures to dismantle LURC — have said they are open to all suggestions to improve planning and permitting in the UT.

The panel plans to hold meetings and at least two public listening sessions in areas near the Unorganized Territory.

For information on the reform panel, go to http://maine.gov/doc/lurcreformcommission.

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