by Kevin Miller
The Land Use Regulation Commission will hold three days of public hearings next week to solicit feedback on an important and sometimes controversial planning document for roughly half of Maine.
Earlier this month, LURC staff released a new draft of a 10-year comprehensive plan that, while not carrying the weight of regulation, guides policy decisions throughout the 10½-million-acre Unorganized Territory.
Public hearings will be held in Augusta, Bangor and Presque Isle on Sept. 28, 29 and 30, respectively.
The latest revisions to the more than 200-page document, known as the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, or CLUP, were made after agency staff and commissioners held working group meetings with diverse interest groups.
The intent of the meetings was to address lingering concerns among some groups — particularly the territory’s large commercial forestland owners and some UT residents — about the scope and tone of an earlier draft.
Much of the discussion focused on the amount of development that has taken place within the territory during the past 30-plus years and whether that development constitutes a problem.
The latest draft of the CLUP identifies a goal of guiding future development into areas with the infrastructure and community services to support it. LURC staff members have also said they believe there should be additional discussion about whether the commission needs new tools to help discourage development from fragmenting working forests and undeveloped areas.
The plan does not recommend any changes to state laws concerning the creation of house lots.
The proposed plan also uses language that stresses the importance of diverse recreational opportunities — both motorized and nonmotorized — while recognizing that private landowners largely control what recreational activities are allowed.
The commission will hold three days of public hearings, with two sessions on each day from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and from 6 to 10 p.m. The hearing dates and locations are:
• Monday, Sept. 28, at the Senator Inn in Augusta.
• Tuesday, Sept. 29, at the Ramada Inn in Bangor.
• Wednesday, Sept. 30, at the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center in Presque Isle.
Written comments also will be accepted through Oct. 21. Send written comments to: Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, 22 State House Station, Augusta 04333-0022. E-mailed comments should be sent to LURC@maine.gov
The draft plan is available online at www.maine.gov/doc/lurc