Unorganized Territory

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The Unorganized Territory or townships are on the mainland and offshore islands. These areas are administered by the County Commissioners. I have had the privilege of doing so for 7.5 years now, and bring that advantage to my candidacy. UT Operations are under state law, and there’s where I would like to initiate land use planning reforms.

Land Use in the UT

The Territory’s Townships are divided into development or protection zones. Property owners who wish to apply for construction permits apply to the Land Use Planning Commission, like they apply to the town or city planning boards. The same procedures of criteria review based but on the Maine Comprehensive Land Use Plan, and public hearings, are held by the commission. The CLUP was approved in 2010. It has not been revised since, and needs to be. Continue reading to learn about the alternative that I prefer to having the land use planning commission as the governing body, based on geographical features as well as existing municipal and territorial boundaries.

The Land Use Planning Commission is comprised of members from all counties. For that reason it does not prioritize the needs of property owners in specific townships but issues permits at the whims of people from remote areas who are not familiar with the local issues related to the permits. I want to change who does the UT planning to the Regional Planning Commissions. This change was found in the unsuccessful LD 1561, which I lobbied for, and was based on this existing statute

 Establishment; purposes—[Regional Planning Commissions–for the Unorganized Territory]

1.  Establishment.  Any 7 or more municipalities or unorganized territory townships, all of which are within one regional planning and development district and within one subdistrict if any, by vote of their municipal officers, may join together to form a regional planning commission.  A. If 4 to 6 municipalities desire to form a regional planning commission, each proposed member municipality must receive the consent of the commissioners of the county in which the municipality is located.  (1) Upon receiving a request for the formation of a regional planning commission under this paragraph, the county commissioners shall notify all proposed member municipalities and any regional planning commission in the county of the request and shall hold a public hearing on the request.  (2) The county commissioners shall grant a request by a municipality to join in the formation of a regional planning commission composed of 4 to 6 municipalities if that formation furthers the purposes of this chapter.   [PL 1989, c. 202 (NEW).][PL 1989, c. 6 (AMD); PL 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); PL 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD); PL 1989, c. 202 (AMD); PL 1989, c. 508, §2 (AMD).]2.  Purposes.  The purposes of a regional planning commission are to:  A. Promote cooperative efforts toward regional development;   [PL 1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); PL 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); PL 1989, c. 6 (AMD); PL 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); PL 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]B. Prepare and maintain a comprehensive regional plan.  (1) The public must be given an adequate opportunity to be heard in the preparation of a comprehensive plan;   [PL 2007, c. 215, §5 (AMD).]C. Coordinate with state and federal planning and development programs;   [PL 2007, c. 215, §5 (AMD).]D. Provide planning assistance and advisory services to municipalities; and   [PL 2007, c. 215, §5 (AMD).]E. Provide programs and services to municipalities.   [PL 2007, c. 215, §5 (NEW).]

If given the opportunity, I would introduce legislation to amend the statute to fund the stipends and materials infrastructures of RPCs, one of which I could see forming in District 136 to cover the Eastern Hancock UTs, with the county commissioners initiating the formation of some of the Regional Planning Commissions as described. I would add amendments that the regions be formed based on the townships that abut the communities by watershed boundaries; that the Regional Planning Commissioners be elected in the municipalities; and that the Comprehensive Plan the RPC would devise is the governing planning document.

The authority of the county commissioners to enact ordinances needs to be expanded. State regulations do not always fit the UTs’ needs, and county commissioners are limited in the amount of protection they can try adding. This has been a neglected area for years. I would like to expand county commissioners’ ordinance powers.

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