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Environmental regulators want to further limit coastal development to protect fragile sand dunes

In this Tuesday, April 17, 2007 file photo, a home destroyed by a severe nor'easter that lashed the East Coast, sits on the verge of being swept into the ocean, in the Ferry Beach section of Saco, Maine. Through the decades, the ocean has destroyed more than 30 homes on the coast in Saco. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
FILE - In this Tuesday, April 17, 2007 file photo, a home destroyed by a severe nor'easter that lashed the East Coast, sits on the verge of being swept into the ocean, in the Ferry Beach section of Saco, Maine. Through the decades, the ocean has destroyed more than 30 homes on the coast in Saco.

State environmental regulators are seeking to further limit coastal development to protect sand dunes from rising sea levels. The new rule would require that planning be based on new dune maps created by Maine Geological Survey.

At the Board of Environmental Protection's hearing Thursday Maine Audubon Wildlife Biologist Laura Minich Zitske spoke in support of the rule change.

"Sea level is rising. Things are changing. It is imperative that we respond and can proactively protect our coastal communities and use the best available geology," Minich Zitske said.

But land use attorney Sandra Guay warned that the rule change will affect buyers, realtors, and code officers that have relied on older maps to make decisions.

"The reality is those map changes that are occurring are significant and are affecting a lot of people. It's not minor. And the DEP tells people to go to these maps. It's all part of the approval process," Guay said.

The change will go before the Legislature next year.