Mar 1, 2005

Maine Bay Management Leaders Meet, discuss LURC-ing Maine's marine environment

Augusta. At a February 25, 2005 meeting of the staff and project managers of the Maine Bay Management Study in Augusta, two plans for innovative management of Maine's nearshore marine environment were reviewed, and a proposal was presented that the state create marine zoning based on the model of the Land Use Regulation Commission's rules. A government official described Baldacci Adminiustration opposition to a bill before the legislature that would clarify that under state law, towns with acccepted comprehensive plans have the power to block development or pollution discharge projects, even if they get state permit approvals

The Bay Management Study's steering committee consists of Paul Anderson, Director, Maine Sea Grant, Kathleen Billings, Chair, Soft Shell Clam Advisory Council; Town of Stonington, Heather Deese, Science Director, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Dewitt John, Director of Environmental Studies, Bowdoin College, Evan Richert, Program Director, Gulf of Maine Census on Marine Life, Jim Salisbury, Retired CEO, Supreme Alaska Seafoods David Schmanska, Harbormaster, St. George, Barbara Vickery, Director of Conservation Programs, ME Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

The two adopted bay management prototype projects were described by the grantees:

Steve Perrin of Friends of Taunton Bay described his bay management project, which will draft a single shellfish and worm ordinance for the Sullivan Franklin and Gouldsboro three towns ringing and dividing Taunton Bay.

"The boundary between the thee towns meets in the middle of the bay," Perrin told the meeting. describing them as "three seperate jurisdictions along the shore that are not in any way uniform." This has led to severe overharvesting of those organisms, he said, describing how when a Sullivan clamflat that had been closed by pollution for years opened up.

"Fifty three clammers came, and wiped it out on the first day."Perrin said. "That was the end of that clamflat. So they learned that they have to regulate their resources and they have a vested interest in doing that."

Jennifer Atkinson representing the Quebec-Labrador Foundation described her project which includes surveying the people of the Muscongus Bay area and collecting historic reports and whatever data she and her associates can compile, and holding two open meetings for Muscongus Bay area residents to attend. The end result will be a a profile of the bay's marine ecology, a study of the socioeconomic and cultural relationships of the coastal communities and users of Muscongus Bay, and a proposal for improving the interaction between the two .

Deirdre Gilbert of DMR discussed DMR's "planned approach for investigating this problem of conflicts and gaps in marine governance systems," She described planning for the 'public discussion' meetings, the staff decisions to simplify the meeting process, focusing less on specific solutions from the public and more on general themes of problems citizens may have with state coastal regulations.

Sue Inches of Maine DMR described the administration's efforts to block passage of, or drastically amend, LD 582 "An Act To Change the Effect of Local Ordinances on the State" The bill, before the Maine state legislature, would clarify that under state law, towns with acccepted comprehensive have the power to block development or pollution projects, even if they get state permit approvals.

"State agencies that I've talked to are not very comfortable with the bill," Inches told the meeting. She said they are coming up with an alternative proposal to make all local ordinances advisory with respect to state agencies. "The governor's office is being very bold on this one, saying yes, there are state priorities that have to be met and the towns should not be in a position of being able to prohibit state goals from being met." Inches said. The bill was presented by Senator Bromley of Cumberland and cosponsored by Representative Koffman of Bar Harbor and Senator Damon of Hancock, Representatives Beaudette Of Biddeford, Smith N of Monmouth.

Evan Richert, former head of the Maine Coastal Program and now a private consultant, reviewed the history of the state's land use zoning process and described how parts of it could be applied as model for ocean zoning. Richert noted that land zoning began in Maine in the 1920s, but did not approach the coastal environment until passage of the Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act inthe 1970s

He said that municipal land zoning ordinances are insufficient for bay and marine zoning because they define the land by two dimensional property lines which don't exist in the marine environment. Instead, he said, the Bay Managrement Study should look at the rules of the Land Use Regulatory Commission as a better model.

Richert said "Chapter 10 of those rules is its zoning ordinance that identifies and establishes zoning lines almost entirely on natural resource-based features instead of perperty lines. LuURC jurisdictions are zoned for a different purpose than municipal zoning, more for resource management purposes.

"So the unorganized territories are much more comparable to Taunton Bay or other bays," he said. "Where people might say this is an aquaculture bay, a working bay, there are similarities there. In the marine environment it's a three dimensional space."

Richert compared it to a three dimensional scrabble game "not only the surface but the air space, the various depths of the water column, and the seafloor."


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