March 22, 2012
309 Cumberland Avenue
Portland, ME 04101
CONTACT: Nancy E. Smith
Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
in opposition to An Act To Make Additional Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2012 and June 30, 2013;
Portions Related to State Planning Office
March 22, 2012
Senator Rosen, Representative Flood and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine, a statewide non-profit, membership-based organization committed to improving Maine's economy while protecting its distinctive character and communities, and enhancing our quality places.
We believe the proposals in this bill will work in direct conflict with those objectives.
Land use planning matters. It incorporates economic development, conservation, housing, hospitality and retail, utilities and transportation. When it is done well, it reduces the cost of government on all levels because these policy areas are aligned and investments are made strategically for greatest benefit.
Land use planning within state government matters because it provides support for municipalities and regional planning commissions as well as to state agencies. This is about providing expertise and resources so everyone can do their job better.
Where is it housed is important because that effects the State’s ability to accomplish its goals. We believe the Land Use Planning component should be housed within the Office of the Executive. Coordination of state agency’s programs and policies is essential to insure that state investments are made in the most strategic and efficient manner. Wise decisions on state investment is inextricably tied to local and regional land use policies.
Land use encompasses and coordinates multiple policy areas. Housing, transportation, utilities, economic development and conservation are incorporated into effective land use planning. Land use planning must be independent of any one policy area, and be provided the flexibility to cross jurisdictional and department structure and mission.
This is not about preserving the current structure. There is support for some components of reshaping the SPO, sending some portion of its role to departments where the work is completely encompassed in the mission of the agency. You’ve also heard opposition over the two prior days. Our coalition has been working together to address concerns, and have developed a proposal, presented to you with my testimony.
We want to work with all of you to find a way to house the land use planning so that it is effective in fulfilling this valuable role within state government, while continuing to act as conduit to the regional and local levels.