Oxford County Commission backs dissolving LURCBy Tony Reaves, Staff Writer Sun Journal May 25, 2011
PARIS — Oxford County Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday in support of a bill that would dissolve Maine's Land Use Regulation Commission.
In Augusta, the Legislature's Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has been discussing a proposal to move LURC's responsibilities to county commissioners. The committee is focusing on a bill sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Gifford, R-Lincoln, who visited a county commission meeting in April to discuss the bill.
At the meeting, landowner Bob Chadbourne said he was confident county government could take over LURC's duties, and pointed to the Oxford County Sheriff's Office taking over law enforcement duties in Bethel as a success story.
County Administrator Scott Cole said Tuesday that he has received letters from landowners in the unorganized territories supporting legislation to dissolve LURC in the past week.
Last week, Oxford County commissioners attended a hearing before the board and Cole has been attending committee meetings since then to follow the issue and to add input for Oxford County commissioners.
At the May 17 hearing, Cole testified that the commission supports the legislation. He said that it would lead to the creation of county planning boards, which could help not only the unorganized territories but small towns that have trouble filling their own planning boards.
“If a county-run planning board existed, it would give those towns the option of closing out their own operation, while retaining a local feel to things,” he said in prepared remarks to the committee.
Cole said Tuesday that the Oxford County Commission wasn't as “strident” in its support as other counties. Commissioners have raised concerns about the cost to taxpayers.
Unless current state funding stays in place, Cole said in prepared remarks, the commission is certain the proposal will cost taxpayers in the unorganized territories of Oxford County more in taxes.
He also raised concerns about the increased workload for commissioners and the lack of space in the courthouse.
He noted that there haven't been problems concerning LURC in Oxford County, and characterized development in the county as “LURC friendly.”
The resolution passed 2-0. County Commission Chairman Caldwell Jackson was not in attendance.