February 21, 2012
309 Cumberland Avenue
Portland, ME 04101
CONTACT: Nancy E. Smith
Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
in opposition to LD 1810,
“An Act To Implement Recommendations of the Committee To
Review Issues Dealing with Regulatory Takings”
February 21, 2012
Senator Hastings, Representative Nass and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine, a statewide non-profit, membership-based organization working to improve Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character and communities, and enhance our state's quality places.
We believe this bill will work in direct conflict with those objectives. I say this, acknowledging the real concerns from landowners. But this is not the solution.
As I listened to the presentation of the Takings Commission Report last month, it became clear that the two reports addressed very different issues. The majority report of the Commission, captured in this bill, seeks to compensate landowners for potential future uses, even if no specific project application is pending. The minority report, which focused attention on the value of the existing mediation program, highlights an established, pragmatic process available when a specific permit application is in play.
I’d like to highlight two specific points related to this bill. First, it is unclear how this legislation will impact regional planning efforts. Mobilize Maine, for instance, works to create cohesive plans for asset-based regional economic development, in collaboration with local and regional groups including the economic development districts. I’ve spoken with several regional planning commission and council of government representatives, and they are unsure how LD 1810 will impact their work. In addition, there are a variety of regional cooperative agencies focused on delivery of services tied to housing, transportation, solid waste, and watershed management. In all these cases, the regulatory authority resides at the municipal level, but we don’t know how this bill will impact municipal regulations that originate from broad-based regional collaborative efforts.
Secondly, LD 1810 overreaches in an attempt to fix all complaints tied to all future legislation in a single misguided, unfunded process. In my eight years of service in the Legislature, I know that a key component of reviewing each piece of legislation is to consider the intent of the bill as well as its potential unintended consequences. You look in the direction the bill is pointed, and then broaden your view to look for other implications. Hearing from the “winners and losers” if you will, is part of the legislative process for each bill. This is why we have public hearings and work sessions, and why the bill is never really done until it is signed into law.
LD 1810 seems to ignore this process and suggests compensation without providing a funding source and then offers the possibility of case by case waivers allowing some property owners to ignore some laws. Think of the neighbor-to-neighbor conflicts and lawsuits this will create.
Establishing this compensation-or-waiver process would allow the executive branch the option to waive requirements that the legislature has enacted. It is appropriate for legislators to look at each bill separately, as you are doing today with LD 1810, rather than to delegate your role to the executive or judiciary branches of government.
I ask you to reject this legislation, focus on increasing use of the existing mediation program and I thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks.