On Thursday, the Legislature’s Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a bill that will give Mainers worse government at a higher cost.

LD 1798: “An Act To Reform Land Use Planning in the Unorganized Territory” is the result of concerns raised about the Land Use Regulation Commission. Addressing concerns such as having good representation directly from those regions over which LURC has jurisdiction is a good idea. But LD 1798 doesn’t ensure good representation.

As written, the bill provides for self-appointed county commissioners to join LURC. This would not allow public review and input to assure representation people want for a state — not a local — commission.

Furthermore, it allows for counties to stop participating in LURC. This means having multiple uncoordinated planners — not one planning organization. The statewide consistency that developers, individual homeowners, and others all want cannot be achieved.

Furthermore, without the “one-stop shop” that LURC has provided, costs can only go up with individual counties taking on the work one organization has done previously. And where will the counties find the money to pay for additional professional planning staff?

Less possible consistency in policy and practice and less cost-efficient government? This is not how life should be in Maine. Let’s fix LURC so the unorganized territories are well represented and sound planning can be done. Let’s not make LURC useless and the process citizens and businesses need to work with more complicated.

Susan Cottle

South China

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