Commissioners nominate Landers as their choice for Maine LUPC

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — The commissioners voted 2-1 on Tuesday to nominate a Harford’s Point man to be the county’s representative on the Maine Land Use Planning Commission which serves as the state’s planning and zoning authority for the unorganized areas. The commissioners selected Duane Landers to be their nominee to the commission. The legislature’s Agricultural, Conservation and Forestry Committee will consider Lander’s nomination to the seven-person board this spring.


    Commissioners Fred Trask and Jim Annis voted in favor of Lander’s nomination. Commissioner Eric Ward voted against it.

    The role of the newly created commission has caused the Friends of the Piscataquis Valley to become wary about other changes in state law which may allow for the East-West Highway to be constructed. FOPV members Sidney Mitchell and Carol Stirling wanted the commissioners to allow them to make a one hour presentation about what they described as new laws which allowed for both Canadian and American corporate interests to exert their influence on Maine public officials. The Friends believe this influence would allow those well-heeled interests to secure approval to build a super corridor with oil pipelines crossing the state.

    “We have a new commission and there is new language on the books dealing with the new agriculture and conservation commission concerning who is accountable and responsible to the public in making arrangements with corporations and private enterprises. We feel this type of relationship and this development are inappropriate for the area.”

    The Friends were in hopes of making their presentation during a March commissioner’s meeting. They have already made arrangements to give a presentation next week to the Penobscot County Commissioners. However, the Piscataquis board seemed to think a county commissioners’ meeting was not the proper venue for the group.

    Trask indicated that state and town officials had authority over projects like the East-West Highway and the commissioners’ power in land-use matters were limited.

    “Outside of snow plowing, fire protection and picking up rubbish in the unorganized territories our power is limited. We have no say over land use,” Trask said. “You seem to think we have more influence than we actually do. If something was going to happen in Dover-Foxcroft, they would go to the selectmen, not us.”

    The commissioners recommended having a public meeting in a different forum than a board meeting would better serve the group’s purpose. The Friends believed that presentation would be a way to establish a “productive conversation” about the East-West Highway’s environmental ramifications. The Friends indicated legal analysis by their lawyers and the Maine National Resources Council revealed new state laws and regulations that provided commissioners with greater influence on land-use matters.

    “I think this is a brave new world we are entering where the multinational corporations are privatizing lands all over the country,” Mitchell said. “If deals are made there is some interpretations that county commissioners would be getting a good chunk of change. That sounds like a conflict of interest and why we want to have this discussion with you.”

    Trask stated the Maine County Commissioners Association hadn’t presented the board with any information about the new law’s impact. The commissioners decided to review the LUPC and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committees’ authority before deciding on whether  to grant the Friends’ request.

    The commissioners will meet next at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19 in the Peaks House county office building.

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