Good afternoon Senator Valentino, Representative Priest and members of the Judiciary Committee. My name is Eliza Donoghue. I am a resident of Farmington and am speaking today on behalf of the Natural Resources Council of Maine in support of LD 165, An Act To Prohibit the Use of Eminent Domain in Certain Public-Private Partnerships.
LD 165 would prohibit the use of eminent domain for the development, operation, management, ownership, leasing or maintenance of a transportation facility as a public-private partnership project. Many Maine citizens have expressed their concern about the proposed east west transportation and energy corridor; they worry that eminent domain will be used to take their property for this project. NRCM believes that these are valid concerns. NRCM also is concerned about the proposed east west corridor because it would fragment the North Woods, cause significant environmental impacts across the state, and would primarily benefit Canadian truckers and energy companies.
The developer of the proposed project has indicated that eminent domain will not be utilized for this project, if it ever happens, and that any such project will not be a “public-private partnership” as defined by law. As such, this bill simply codifies those assurances.
NRCM proposes two changes to LD 165 that would narrow the scope of the bill and address related concerns that have been expressed by Maine residents whose property potentially lies in the pathway of an East-West highway and energy corridor. I have attached to my testimony our proposed amendment incorporating those two changes.
The first change would substitute “roadway” for “facility.” NRCM’s goal is to narrow the scope of the bill to roads and not to, for instance, rest areas or road sand enclosures or other miscellaneous structures that may be considered “transportation facilities.”
NRCM’s second proposed change would broaden the limitation on private entities to use eminent domain for a roadway project. The bill, as written, only addresses public-private partnerships. Many homeowners along the route worry about both public-private partnerships and purely private projects. Given that the developer has pledged that the project will be entirely a private sector initiative and that it will not use eminent domain, we believe that these proposed changes are consistent with the developer’s statements and address concerns by Maine people potentially in the corridor for such a project.
We urge you to vote Ought To Pass on an amended LD 165, as attached to our testimony.