MEREDA’s Legislative Committee and Legislative Counsel are pleased to report that LD 695, An Act to Amend the Site Location of Development Law, sponsored by Senator James Boyle (D – Gorham), has been signed into law by Governor LePage as Public Law 2013, Chapter 183. You may click this link to review the new law: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getDoc.asp?id=15120.
Effective 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, this new law will apply to sites permitted under the Site Location of Development Law. Owners of these sites will be able to make minor modifications of up to 10,000 square feet in any one year and up to 20,000 square feet over any number of years without first obtaining a Site Law permit amendment, thereby avoiding the cost and time of full Site Law review. Rather, the developer will need to submit the plans of any completed modification to the DEP at year end, and to include any completed modifications in a Site Law application when one of the thresholds is to be exceeded. Importantly, the developer will need to comply with any other relevant environmental or land use regulations applicable to any minor modification.
Ultimately, all modifications must comply with the site law standards, but review of minor modifications will only occur when the modifications exceed one of the thresholds. Maine law already provides similar exceptions for manufacturers, ski resorts and college campuses. This new law is intended to help stimulate the economy by making it easier for small businesses to invest in incremental growth, and allowing a more business-friendly approach to environmental regulation in Maine, without relaxing any environmental standards.
The legislation was initiated by MEREDA’s Legislative Committee in response to a membership survey conducted last summer to understand members’ policy needs. A subcommittee comprised of Steve Blais, Rick Licht, and Gary Vogel, supported by Pierce Atwood environmental attorney Brian Rayback, drafted the legislation and advocated actively for its passage. At critical junctures, other Legislative Committee Board members engaged in communications to Legislators. In the final push, an all-member Call to Action also generated critical communications to help secure passage. Pierce Atwood Legislative Counsel Andrea Cianchette Maker and Avery Day helped to shepherd the bill through the process from start to finish.
Freshman Senator James Boyle (D – Gorham), co-chair of the Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resource Committee, served as prime sponsor of the bill. Ultimately, eleven of the 13 Committee members supported the bill; Ricky Long (R- Sherman) supported more generous thresholds and Denise Harlow (D-Portland) opposed the bill. It was unanimously supported by the House and Senate, and on May 31 Governor LePage signed it into law.