2012-03-07 / Maine

Bill involving land use oversight advances

AUGUSTA (AP) — A proposal to overhaul the agency that regulates development in the nearly 10 million- acre region of Maine known as the Unorganized Territory is heading for votes by the full Legislature.

A vote Thursday by the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee to send the bill to the House and Senate comes after nearly a year of deliberation, study and negotiation that was prompted by a bill to abolish the Land Use Regulation Commission.

The bill emerged with support of the committee’s majority and would put eight representatives of counties with the largest portions of Unorganized Territory on the commission’s board. It seeks to allow counties to seize responsibility for their own land use issues from the commission, but not until 2017.

The final form of the bill was developed by lawmakers after a nonpartisan, 12-member panel of landowners, local government officials, tourism representatives, environmentalists and land use experts met several times last year and developed recommendations to overhaul LURC.

“We agreed with the broad strokes of this proposal, but there were some areas that a few of us thought needed to be changed,” said Rep. Russell Black, R-Wilton, a member of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.

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