Good afternoon Sen. Sherman, Rep. Edgecomb and members of the Committee. My name is Lisa Pohlmann. I am a resident of Jefferson. I am the Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I am here today on behalf of the 12,000 members and supporters of the Natural Resources Council of Maine in support of L.D. 819.
Judging from the number of bills this Committee is hearing today regarding LURC, there are some concerns about LURC. This Resolve would put in place a way to address those concerns.
Many of the most controversial proceedings that LURC has been involved in over its 40 years have resulted from differences of opinion about where certain types of development should take place. 14 years ago, in its 1997 Comprehensive Land Use Plan, LURC recognized that prospective zoning would help avoid those controversies. Through prospective zoning, LURC can look at an entire region, its natural resources, the uses taking place in the region, and the future that those who live, work, and recreate in the region want. LURC has done this in the Rangeley region and it has been very successful at determining where the most appropriate locations for various types of uses. Prospective zoning is probably the single most useful tool in increasing predictability in the permitting process.
LURC has not yet undertaken prospective zoning in the other regions of the unorganized townships. Section 1 of this resolve would direct LURC to do prospective zoning in another region.
Section 2 of the bill would ensure that everyone who wants to can have a voice in the implementation of the recently adopted Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The Plan, itself, does not make changes to rules or laws. That is done through the implementation phase which is just beginning. One of the great benefits that LURC can provide is an opportunity for all voices to be heard during this implementation phase..
Finally, Section 3 would direct LURC to streamline its permitting rules wherever possible. LURC has already done a lot of this, but this will ensure that they continue to look for opportunities to simplify their processes.
We believe that these three changes would address many of the concerns we have heard and ensure that LURC continues to look for opportunities to improve its operation, while continuing to provide a balanced approach towards protection of the natural resources of this spectacular forest and economic development in the UT. Thank you very much for your attention.