By Jen Lynds
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Commissioners on the Land Use Regulation Commission said Wednesday afternoon that attendance at the hearings they have been holding to discuss changes to the draft Comprehensive Land Use Plan, or CLUP, has been sparse.
It was no different in Presque Isle as fewer than 20 people showed up at the afternoon hearing to talk about revisions to the approximately 200-page plan. Of those, only a few testified for or against the changes.
For the first half-hour, no one testified, and the commission recessed until two individuals came to speak.
The afternoon hearing was held at the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center. Another hearing was scheduled for Wednesday evening.
The comprehensive plan covers more than 10 million acres in Maine’s Unorganized Territory. While the plan recommends that the commission explore additional tools to ensure development occurs in appropriate locations, it does not suggest specific changes.
Any changes to LURC regulations would have to go through the rule-making process or the Legislature.
Several people who testified Wednesday urged the commission not to suggest policies that might put too many restrictions on establishing remote camps in the unorganized territories. Several of those who testified before the commission owned such camps.
Rick Dennico of Vassalboro has owned a camp on land in the unorganized territories of Aroostook County for decades. He told commissioners that he found the draft CLUP “complicated” and “complex.”
Dennico noted that he and other family members enjoy the camp, spending time there fishing and kayaking. He said he was afraid the rules would become so rigid that his children might not be able to build camps in the area near his or enjoy the land using certain motorized vehicles.
He stressed that he did not want to destroy the land he loves, but he felt that he should be able to enjoy the land he owns.
“I don’t want to wreck a thing, but I want to be able to bring my ATV up there and I want my kids to be able to build camps up there,” he said.
He said he felt the draft was too restrictive.
“Tone it down a bit,” he said of the draft CLUP. “It scares me.”
Another speaker also told the commission he did not want to see policies made that would put too many restrictions on UT camp owners.
Catherine Carroll, LURC’s staff director, said she was a bit surprised that more people did not show up to testify.
“I expected a heavier turnout, but we had relatively light turnout in Bangor and Augusta,” she said, noting that revisions have been made to the draft after it was originally released in May 2008. “I think that it is because those revisions have been made that the crowds are not as large.”
Carroll called the comments received “productive and constructive.”
“They have been very helpful,” she said Wednesday.