Press Release: GrowSmart Maine Testifies on Billboards, Subdivisions and the Washington County Development Authority

PRESS RELEASE

April 26, 2011

GrowSmart Maine

309 Cumberland Avenue

Suite 202

Portland, ME 04101

207-699-4330

 

CONTACT: Kimberly Ballard

 

Testimony of Lock Kiermaier, Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator for GrowSmart Maine in opposition to LD 1405,

“An Act To Amend the Laws Restricting Advertising on Public Ways”

April 26, 2011

 

Senator Thomas, Representative Cebra and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation. My name is Lock Kiermaier and I am the Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator for GrowSmart Maine. The Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine, Nancy Smith, and the GrowSmart Maine Board of Directors have asked me to represent their views on LD 1405. As many of you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance our state's quality places.

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine will continue to enthusiastically support well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time protecting our state’s unique character. With all due respect, we do not believe that the proposals included in LD 1405 accomplish these objectives and we strongly oppose passage of this bill.

As reflected in the 2006 Brookings Institute Report, “Charting Maine’s Future”, which was commissioned and paid for by GrowSmart Maine, Maine’s unique and enduring quality of place is a valuable asset in itself, as well as a powerful economic development resource. In fact, we believe that the current restrictions on advertising within public ways are extremely effective in protecting our state’s quality of place while allowing advertising and promotional efforts that are more than adequate to publicize various businesses and destinations.

Maine’s distinctive lack of obtrusive and excessive highway signage is in direct contrast to our neighboring New England states where excessive signs significantly detract from the scenic landscape and may often actually work against the careful effort to attract and promote local business and industry.

In summary, we urge members of the Transportation Committee to consider the fact that the current statutory restrictions on highway signage are working as intended and do not need to be changed at this point in time. I welcome any opportunity to further discuss our respectful opposition to LD 1405 with committee members.

 

 

Testimony of Lock Kiermaier, Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator for GrowSmart Maine in Opposition to LD 1367,

“An Act To Restore Maine’s Secondary Roads”

April 26, 2011

 

Senator Thomas, Representative Cebra and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation. My name is Lock Kiermaier and I am the Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator for GrowSmart Maine. The Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine, Nancy Smith, and the GrowSmart Maine Board of Directors have asked me to present their views on LD 1367. As many of you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance our state's quality places.

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine will continue to enthusiastically support well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time protecting our state’s unique character. In particular, GrowSmart Maine has consistently supported legislative proposals which seek to improve Maine’s existing transportation network in a way that preserves and promotes our historic centers and largely rural character.

While we agree with many of the intentions of LD 1367 to provide more funding for state transportation purposes, we respectfully disagree with the methods that are being proposed in this bill. Instead of transferring various revenue sources and responsibilities between the Highway and General Funds which have the effect of depriving the General Fund of resources essential for the accomplishment of other priorities, we strongly support the sound investment of general obligation bonds funded by both the General Fund and the Highway Fund to maintain and improve our existing highway infrastructure. More specifically, we encourage members of the Transportation Committee to support bonding for highway infrastructure which establishes a “fix-it first” policy, in which maintenance and repair of existing roads are given priority over construction of new infrastructure.

In addition, we are strongly opposed to the provision in LD 1367 which allows for the placement of off-premise signs near highways throughout the state. As stated in our written testimony in opposition to LD 1405, “An Act to Amend the Laws Restricting Advertising on Public Ways”, we believe that the current restrictions on advertising along public ways are extremely effective. To quote this morning’s Portland Press Herald editorial: “Both (bills) aren't just bad ideas, they fall under the heading of really bad ideas. The Brookings Institution's report citing the value of Maine's "unique quality of place" would have to be shredded if these schemes were to become law.”

No better testimony to that effect has been offered than the words uttered this week by Dana Connors, who was Maine's transportation secretary when the law passed and is now head of the Maine Chamber of Commerce:

"I think time has rendered that to be a very good decision, a right decision, that has fit very well with how we see ourselves and how other people see us in terms of the importance of the environment to our state and how it fits into the business agenda."

I welcome any opportunity to further discuss our respectful opposition to LD 1367 with committee members.

 

 

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in favor of LD 1342,

“An Act To Amend the Washington County Development Authority”

April 26, 2011

 

Senator Rector, Representative Prescott and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development. My name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. As many of you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance our state's quality places. I regret that previously scheduled commitments prevent me or other GrowSmart Maine representatives to present this testimony at today’s Public Hearing for LD 1342.

 

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time protecting our state’s unique character. In particular, we fully support and encourage any legislative proposal which seeks to encourage sustainable economic development in the more rural areas of the state.

 

Accordingly, providing the flexibility to allow the Washington County Development Authority to enter into memorandums of understanding with municipalities to perform the function of a local development corporation is an innovative proposal which maximizes the efficiency and effectiveness of an existing organization to provide additional economic development opportunities to municipalities within Washington County without the expense and complications of forming new economic development entities. We strongly support the common sense nature and simplicity of this proposal offered by LD 1342.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks. Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding GrowSmart Maine’s enthusiastic support for LD 1342.

 

 

 

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in favor of LD 1328,

“Resolve, To Create a Working Group to Study the Subdivision Laws”

April 26, 2011

 

Senator Saviello, Representative Hamper and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment & Natural Resources. My name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. As many of you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance our state's quality places. I regret that previously scheduled commitments prevent me or other GrowSmart Maine representatives to present this testimony at today’s Public Hearing for LD 1328.

 

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time protecting our state’s unique character. The viability of the natural resource sector is key to both Maine’s economy and our quality of place.

 

Assuming that the bill needs to be corrected to identify the Department of Environmental Protection (as opposed to the Department of Public Safety) as the lead state agency charged with convening a working group to study the subdivision laws, GrowSmart Maine sees yet another opportunity to step back and take a careful look at the complex array of current laws that have an interrelated and significant impact on both the environment and sustainable development efforts. We further suggest that the bill could be amended to allow for our involvement as a member of the working group; such a move would follow the precedent established by your committee in designating GrowSmart Maine to lead the stakeholder’s group which will be convened to examine the similar issues contemplated by LD 159, “An Act to Foster Economic Development by Improving Administration of the Laws Governing Site Location of Development and Storm Water Management”.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks. Please contact me with any questions regarding GrowSmart Maine’s enthusiastic support for LD 1328.

 

 

 

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