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View Full Version : Big changes potentially coming to Maine Unorgainzed Territories



peakbagger
06-11-2018, 04:20 PM
One of the long term goals of the current Maine Governor and his supporters has been to remove regulatory control of if and how land gets developed in Maine's Unorganized territories. These territories cover large amounts of rural Maine where a lot of the recreational opportunities that folk take advantage of exist. These areas are actually increasing in size as small rural towns are increasingly unable to muster enough local support to maintain a functioning town government. If they cannot, the town can dis-incorporate and the remaining citizens fall under control of state agency. Longer term members may remember the long running Plum Creek development proposals that were covered by the prior Land Use Regulatory Commission (LURC) which was subsequently changed to the Land Use Planning Commission (LURP) soon after the current governor was elected. It is generally regarded that the switch from the LURP to LURC was a loosening of state control to the benefit the landowner. Arguably the Plum Creek proposal that was finally approved had far less impact to the region than what may be approved under the current LUPC rules. Luckily Plum Creek was bought by Weyerhaeuser and the large scale developments envisioned are permitted but on what appears to be long term hold.

The fundamental approach of development in the unorganized territories is try to substantially limit development to areas where there is already development, that allows some local services to be retained and supported and more importantly reduces fragmentation of the undeveloped areas. Sure there are remote spots that were developed long before the regulations were in place but the goal is effectively grandfather them and prevent future development. There is now an attempt to substantially increase the potential areas that could be developed into areas farther away from existing developments by modifying the regulations in place. Several organizations including MATC have sent out notices to members that the changes to the complex regulations are going to potentially open up large areas of the unorganized territories to development. To date beyond a few editorials and local news articles I have not seen a lot of press about this effort as it is not an easy concept to grasp and pretty dry but it looks like these changes have a good chance of approval. I don’t expect change right away but expect at some point in the future another Plum Creek project will arise and with the diluted regulations the outcomes will change for the worst.

The one good thing that will mitigate things somewhat is that some large landowners did sell development rights over the years to large tracts in the states unorganized territories so not all areas will be impacted. AMC was the benefactor of the Plum Creek project in that Plum Creek wanted to "greenwash" their project and sold lands along the AT in the 100 mile wilderness to AMC which is the core of their Maine hut system. AMC subsequently sold development easements to much of the land with the exception of key inholdings that contain grandfathered development.

NHClimber
06-13-2018, 10:52 PM
With population expansion, development of rural areas will eventually follow. Just an unfortunate fact.

expat
06-14-2018, 09:33 AM
I own a small camp in an unorganized territory, and I know that the current regulations are pretty stiff, often more strict than zoning regulations in towns and cities. I understand some of the requirements, like water setback, etc. but others seem to be items that are unnecessary for owners of small parcels. The paper work to put a shed on my property is pretty burdensome, and requires a visit to the property from a LUPC manager (over an hour away) before approval.

I don't know whether the push to change or abolish LUPC is coming from large entities, or a large number of small property owners, but it seems like there should be a way to manage both reasonably. It's important for large projects to have oversight, but the same procedures are currently applied to small properties, as well, which I don't think require that same level of control.

NHClimber
06-14-2018, 09:21 PM
I own a small camp in an unorganized territory, and I know that the current regulations are pretty stiff, often more strict than zoning regulations in towns and cities. I understand some of the requirements, like water setback, etc. but others seem to be items that are unnecessary for owners of small parcels. The paper work to put a shed on my property is pretty burdensome, and requires a visit to the property from a LUPC manager (over an hour away) before approval.

I don't know whether the push to change or abolish LUPC is coming from large entities, or a large number of small property owners, but it seems like there should be a way to manage both reasonably. It's important for large projects to have oversight, but the same procedures are currently applied to small properties, as well, which I don't think require that same level of control.

Agree. Typical govt one size fits all approach.