2009-04-08 / Letters

Encourage development, don't discourage it

To the editor:

On behalf of myself and my staff at Main-Land Development Consultants, I'd like to thank the 25 or so concerned citizens who attended our March 26 forum at Webster Hall on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's proposal to update the Site Location of Development Law and its related rules.

Since we spoke in Kingfield, the bill has been given an LD number (LD 1268: An Act To Update the Site Location of Development Laws) and sent to the Natural Resources Committee, which means that now more than ever, we must be proactive in preventing this limiting legislation from being passed into law.

As I stressed during our presentation, never in my 37 years as a land use consultant have I been more concerned about the consequences of a piece of planning legislation than I am now. Based on our deep understanding of the current site law and our careful review of the proposed changes to it, I truly believe if these new initiatives are implemented, development in Maine will come to a standstill. In these trying economic times, our state leaders must be encouraging thoughtful, responsible growth in our communities, not outlawing it.

Many of the developers our firm works with throughout western Maine also live and recreate in the region, largely because they have a deep appreciation and respect for the area's natural resources. Given this, they are committed to protecting what makes western Maine so special.

Recent growth in the region that has attracted many visitors and the important job and revenue opportunities that are created as a result while concurrently preserving the region's resources is a testament to this. It also illustrates the effectiveness of the development laws already on the books. Sadly, many of the very projects that have been such a boom to the area in the past decade would have been flat-out prohibited under the proposed law and rule changes, without ever having been given a chance for review by the town's planners.

Micromanaging a developer's contractor list or requiring evidence of a loan or line of credit before a project is even approved doesn't fulfill the Maine DEP's stated mission to "protect and enhance the public's right to use and enjoy the State's natural resources." Instead, it ties the hands of those looking to invest in our towns and robs local governmental of the control over their communities.

The fact that so many concerned citizens - -from bankers to builders, town planners to state politicians- - have attended the forums we've put on these past two months around western Maine speaks to the region's clear commitment to its future and the smart growth that will ensure that future is a prosperous one. It is we the people who are the strongest stewards of our communities and as long as we continue to remind Augusta of this —whether by writing letters to our legislators or packing public hearings— it will hopefully remain that way.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at 897-6752 or darryl@main-landdevelopment.com if you have more questions on the potential impact of LD 1268 on the Kingfield area or if you'd like to be kept informed of the bill's progress. Darryl Brown President/Owner Main-Land Development Consultants Livermore Falls

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