‘Takings’ legislation undermines nearly every environmental protection that exists in law. Taxpayers and state agencies would be left with two unworkable and unethical choices: pay landowners to follow the law or waive the protective legislation.
LD 1810 applies to any new land use law or regulation adopted by the State. If a property owner believes that such a law or regulation has reduced the value of their property by 50 percent or more, they can then seek compensation from the State. If the State doesn’t have the money to pay the claim, then the application of the law could be waived. Municipal zoning would be exempt, but this exemption would not protect towns from impacts of this bill. That is why the Maine Municipal Association opposes LD 1810.
Having Maine taxpayers pay people and corporations to obey the law threatens our core purpose of public policy. Maine’s land use laws are designed to protect our water, land and wildlife. Waiving these laws endangers the character of our communities, our public health and safety, and the value of property for all Mainers.
The “pay or waive” concept has several other implications. It could pit neighbors against each other, damage the environment by eroding Maine law, and result in an outpour of lawsuits with huge costs to the State.
LD 1810, in essence, would prevent the Legislature from legislating because of the potential threat of costly compensation claims, even if the laws are necessary to protect the interests of Maine people as future challenges arise. For example, state efforts to protect deer yards, regulate significant wildlife habitat and direct the location of major wind projects could all trigger compensation claims. But almost any law that involves land use could be affected.
‘Regulatory Takings’ schemes such as LD 1810 could create an incentive for landowners to inflate development plans in order to file compensation claims for projects they may never have planned on completing in the first place.
Proposals such as LD 1810 have been rejected nationwide by voters in California, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Washington across New England. Maine itself has rejected such legislation five times – in 1994, 1995, 2000, 2003, and 2011. LD 1810 is a bad idea for Maine, our people and our values.
Representatives Brad Moulton and Charlie Priest have been champions on this issue. They have put forth an amendment that would replace the language of the original bill. Under this amendment, a Regulatory Fairness Committee, similar to that used for the LD 1 process, would be created. This Committee would act as a forum for landowners to express their concerns about the significant impacts of land use regulations (both recent and new) on their property.