Bryan Cohen Apr. 15, 2011, 2:34am
AUGUSTA, Maine (Legal Newsline) - Maine Attorney General William Schneider is appealing a recent Superior Court decision regarding the Land Use Regulation Commission's decision conditionally approving Plum Creek's Concept Plan for the Moosehead Lake Region.
A decision by the Superior Court on April 7 vacated LURC's approval for the Plum Creek Concept Plan on procedural grounds, finding that the LURC commissioners needed to hold an additional adjudicatory hearing on the proposal before acting upon it. The decision remanded the LURC decision and ordered further proceedings.
"We are eager to complete this appeal to settle once and for all the question of whether due process was served by the reviews and public hearings that were conducted by LURC," Schneider said.
In its appeal, the State is seeking a review of the Superior Court's determination that LURC afforded insufficient process to the plan.
"The Maine attorney General has set forth a thorough, reasoned appeal," Maine Gov. Paul LePage said. "It has my full support. At the same time, this seemingly endless use of Maine's complex regulatory system to stop Maine landowners from investing in their own land, in creating jobs and building the tax base, not by merit of their arguments, but simply by endless regulatory uncertainties and delay, is a travesty and must end. This is why I feel so strongly about regulatory reform. We need regulations that are tough, fast, reliable and fair."
The formal review of Plum Creek's proposed concept plan began in the summer of 2007. LURC held four weeks of adjudicatory hearings in December 2007 and January 2008.
Almost 170 witnesses were heard from 26 parties to the hearings during the four weeks of hearings and all of the witnesses were made available for cross examination. The agency also held four full days and evenings of public hearings around the state.
Amendments to Plum Creek's proposed concept plan based on evidence presented during the hearings were developed by LURC over a period of 18 months. The amendments were repeatedly posted for public notice and comment.
LURC's September 2009 decision permanently conserved approximately 392,000 acres of land for sustainable forestry and public recreational access. An additional 16,000 acres, or approximately two percent of Plum Creek's land holdings in Maine, were set aside by the decision for residential and seasonal growth in targeted areas.