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New Bill Would Put Recently Adopted LUPC Rules On Hold

A new billwould put on hold recently adopted rules from the state's Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) that determine where commercial and residential development can occur across Maine's unorganized territories.

Earlier this month, the Commission approved changes to the so-called "adjacency principle," which guides development along Maine's North Woods. The Commission says the new rules move development closer to some rural towns and provide flexibility for businesses like trail centers.

But some conservation organizations and officials in towns like Millinocket fought the rules, saying they could disrupt the character of the area and harm local economies.

Jeremy Sheaffer, a board member for Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, testified at a public hearing Thursday in support of the bill that would put the rule changes on hold.

“We are concerned that some of the recently adopted LUPC rules will undermine the strongly expressed desires of residents in the region to encourage both commercial and residential development in the downtown of these communities,” Sheaffer says.

The legislation would also change the makeup of the LUPC and require the commission to work with local communities. Opponents of the bill, including LUPC staff and groups including the Maine Professional Guides Association, say the LUPC has worked well and does not need to be changed.

LUPC executive director Nicholas Livesay says Commission staff are already reaching out and working with local governments when crafting rules.

“Augusta swooping in and beginning a planning process that is not broadly and locally desired will not produce success,” Livesay says.