AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC), originally the Land Use Regulation Commission (or LURC), turns fifty this September. Fifty years is a long time, and the requirement of extending sound planning, zoning, and permitting to Maine’s “Wildlands,” as they were called in the 1960s, remains true today. Unique in the United States east of the Mississippi River, are the 10.4 million acres of un- and de-organized areas of Maine, collectively known as the Unorganized Territory (UT). The UT includes plantations and towns with no local-level land use controls.
As the LUPC embarks on the second half-century of its history, there are many significant proposals before the Commission. Some like the Saddleback ski area, newly re-opened in 2020 and under new management, reach back to the 1970s. Others reflect changing demand for modern energy sources and high-tech materials. These are seen in current proposals for grid-scale solar energy and a metallic mineral mine.
As proposal review continues and the demands for building permits expand, the LUPC will implement three significant organization initiatives.
- Updating and reorganizing several Chapters of rules
The rule revisions proposed this year should help staff and applicants alike understand and navigate the rules while being mindful that “Properly done, development can fit in the surroundings.”
- Updating application forms for clarity and online submission
In early testing, one applicant recently observed, “Wow! What an organized and well-thought-out application. I’ve seen a lot from many jurisdictions; we just may be able to figure this out”, which reinforced the effort that went into the improvements.
- Updating communications planning and message dissemination
LUPC utilizes the DACF GovDelivery platform to provide public notice of the information about LUPC activities. New LUPC GovDelivery lists offer more options for stakeholders to stay connected. Users can sign up according to their county, project, policy issue, or planning initiative of interest. Users can continue to receive notice of Commission meetings, public hearings, and any changes to Commission rules or how recent rule changes are monitored over time. Users can also choose many different lists. If Commission staff post to several lists at once, the system ensures duplicate emails are removed from active subscribers. The switch will ensure no addresses are dropped and that users can choose the new topic areas before any older lists are abandoned.
Join the 50th Year Celebration
Help us celebrate our 50th! Share your photos of the UT. Images showing the same location “then and now” would be interesting to compare. Email your photo(s) to LUPC@maine.gov including the location, date(s), and your name. Watch this page for future videos and content from the 2021 field season and our 50th anniversary celebration.
The 1968 Report on the Wildlands called for “Care In Development” LUPC staff and Commissioners work every day with applicants and landowners to ensure that Maine continues to balance the unique character and vital economy of the State’s extraordinary UT. To learn more, visit https://www.maine.gov/dacf/
–Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
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