PORTLAND- The Livermore Falls businessman who organized opposition to proposed drastic reforms to Maine development law has been honored for his advocacy.
Darryl Brown, president/owner of the Livermore Falls based land planning firm Main-Land Development Consultants, was given the Public Policy Award from the Maine Real Estate and Development Association (MEREDA) at the organization’s annual conference and showcase held last week in Portland.
Brown was presented the award before a crowd of 500 plus people by Raymond Cota, president of MEREDA, a Portland based organization now in its 25th year whose mission is to promote an environment for responsible development and ownership of real estate throughout Maine.
While the annual Public Policy Award is given each year to a Mainer whose efforts have had a significant impact on public policy decisions for the benefit of the real estate industry in the state, the honor celebrates the entire Main-Land team’s commitment to the cause of working for reasonable development regulation.
Last winter, Brown, who founded Main-Land in 1974 and is a former state legislator, learned of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s plan to update the Site Location of Development Law in a way he believed would drastically decelerate development in the state.
Had the revisions been enacted as proposed, they would have limited large scale non-residential development to designated zones or districts served by public sewer systems; mandated preservation of at least 55 percent of the land area in residential developments over 30 acres; prohibited the disturbances of slopes 20 percent or greater, severely slowing projects in Maine’s mountainous regions; and given the state the authority to review proposed project contractors.
Fearing the impact these restrictions would have on attracting and retaining growth in the state, Brown and his staff rapidly rallied to educate Mainers and their elected representatives about the effect of the proposed changes through a seven-stop series of informational forums around central and western Maine, media outreach and a statewide letters to legislators campaign.
Their efforts resulted in a turnout of more than 100 concerned citizens packing a public hearing last April when the bill arrived in Augusta as LD 1268: The Act to Update the Site Location of Development Law. As a result of testimony heard that day and in subsequent work sessions that Brown and Main-Land staffers participated in, the version of the bill eventually approved eliminated many of its most limiting laws and ensured Maine would remain open to responsible development and the jobs and revenue it brings.
“After working so hard to build this business for the past 35 years, it was a huge risk to challenge a powerful state agency but as a citizen and a small business owner, I strongly believe that in these trying economic times, we should be encouraging investment in our communities, not legislatively preventing it,” Brown explained.
“I am proud that our work at Main-Land is being honored by MEREDA, but even more so that we helped to shape a powerful piece of legislation that reflects the needs of regulators and the real people who must live by their rules. While we may not all work in Augusta, we need to work to keep our voices heard there.”
In addition to Brown’s award, other honors handed out by MEREDA at the event included the President’s Award to Mark R. Bergeron, of Sevee & Maher Engineers in Cumberland; the Robert B. Patterson, Jr. Founders’ Award to David H. Cook, of AlliedCook Construction Corp. in Scarborough; and the Volunteer of the Year Award to Gary D. Vogel, of Drummond Woodsum & MacMahon in Portland.