Defending the coast and a bird-filled marsh: CLF in Maine is ...

Author:Shelley, Peter
Position:From The States

Launching the Maine Coastal Defense Project

The Maine coast is under siege. CLF's coastal defense project is a strategic advocacy agenda designed to protect it. Though the coast comprises only 12% of Maine's land area, it's an attraction for more than eight million visitors annually, and home to nearly half the state's growing population. All this hugely stresses the health of coastal ecosystems, not to mention the character of coastal communities.

Maine harbors and waterfronts are becoming heavily congested. Increasing numbers of docks, marinas, and aquaculture sites diminish natural beauty. Wildlife habitat is being destroyed, wild places lost forever, public access to the shore denied, and protected conservation lands jeopardized.

The project will focus on a number of critical tasks:

* Restoring tidal estuaries to support our coastal and marine biodiversity

* Protecting near-shore waters to preserve public rights to fishing, navigation, and recreation

* Protecting and enhancing visual and public access to coastal waters

* Reforming state aquaculture policy to safeguard water quality and public uses of coastal waters and lands

* Developing a coastal transportation plan that reduces congestion and prevents sprawl

* Shaping land-use policies to protect and preserve the coast

Protecting Penjajawoc Marsh

Bangor's 350-acre Penjajawoc Marsh, fed by a stream of the same name, is home to 17 bird species on the endangered, threatened, or "state watch" lists. It's one of the state's most important wildlife areas. Widewaters Stillwater Co., LLC. filed an application with the Bangor Planning Board to build a Wal-Mart "superstore" on a 27.4 acre site near a portion of the marsh, and adjacent to Penjajawoc stream, but the company's proposal lacks plans for an adequate buffer between the superstore and fragile marsh resources.

At the public hearing, after many Maine environmentalists testified about the lack of a buffer and the marsh's unique habitat, the planning board rejected the application, three to two. Members said that the project's effect on the marsh would violate Section 165-114(I) of the Bangor Land Development Ordinance.

On appeal, the state Superior Court invalidated 165-114(I). It claimed the ordinance represented an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority, violating the due process clause and the equal protection clause. The court relied on a recent Maine Supreme Judicial Court case, Kosalka v. Town of Georgetown, which...

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