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May 22, 2012 | last updated May 23, 2012 11:05 am

LePage signs LURC reform bill

Gov. Paul LePage yesterday signed legislation to revamp the Land Use Regulation Commission. The bill takes effect 90 days after the Legislature's adjournment.

The legislation replaces LURC with a new land-use board and refocuses its mission on both conservation and economic development, according to a press release from LePage's office. The new agency, which is a division under the Maine Department of Conservation, also focuses on local input and improved permitting processes. LURC oversees land use and planning in Maine's 10.4 million acres of unorganized territories.

LD 1798 was based on the recommendations of a 13-member committee, which last fall presented a report with reform recommendations.

The new Land Use Planning Commission will have nine members nominated by both the governor and the eight counties with the most unorganized territories. The commission will also identify areas that have significant economic investment and job creation opportunities, and report annually to a legislative oversight committee.

Grid-scale wind projects in the UT now will be reviewed and permitted by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Regulation of forestry activities in the UT will be handled by the Maine Forest Service.

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