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Open Letter to the Piscataquis County Commissioners

Dear Piscataquis County Commissioners, and other interested citizens:

In view of the fact that Mr. Peter Vigue is scheduled to appear at a Commissioners public meeting on May 15, to present his “vision” of an “East-West Utility Corridor” (proposed to run along the Piscataquis River Valley and elsewhere);  I wanted  to make sure that you were aware of several “Maine Revised Statutes” passed by the Legislature in 2010 and that apply to the Maine DOT regarding “Public-Private Partnerships.”

(Please find the statutes here and as a PDF document that I have attached or google: Title 23, section 4251):
I think this important to take note of because, in a recent article in the Mainebiz (click to view), Mr. Vigue, and Maine DOT spokesman Ted Talbot, both refer to this project as a “Public Private Partnership.”  A fact that was not exactly clear (at least to me) in the past.

Please notice in particular two sections:  #7 and #10:…….(there may be other issues as well)

“7. Exercise of powers.  If the department exercises its power of eminent domain for the development and construction of a transportation facility pursuant to this subchapter, the department must retain ownership rights and interests taken. The State may provide maintenance, law enforcement and other services with respect to a transportation facility owned by a private entity when the agreement provides for reasonable reimbursement for such services.”

…..Aside from the obvious eminent domain issues, what concerns me here is that if the Maine DOT does indeed take property by eminent domain, it would remain the property of the Maine DOT; and thus not be taxable?

——–

“10. Confidentiality of proposals and negotiations.  All records, notes, summaries, working papers, plans, interoffice and intraoffice memoranda or other materials prepared, used or submitted in connection with any proposal considered under this subchapter are confidential and not subject to public review until the department determines that the proposal meets the standards of this subchapter or until the proposal is finally rejected by the department.”

…..this section angers me: it abandons the public interest in favor of commercial interests and for the convenience of the Maine DOT.   The statute doesn’t require any public hearings..only notice to the legislature !    (This clause is even listed officially as being an “EXEMPTION”  to the “Maine Freedom of Access Act”

     Pursuant to the above issues and the fact that Mr. Vigue recently, along with David Bernhardt, Commissioner of the Maine DOT, and his predecessor in that job, David Cole, appeared together in Canada to solicit support for this project, I feel it would behoove the Commissioners, in the interests of the citizens of Piscataquis County, to also invite the the DOT Commissioner or his representative to the May 15 meeting (or at a different date) to answer any further questions the Commissioners or citizens may have regarding these and other important issues.
 May I further point out a last concern, quoting again from the same Mainebiz article;

   ‘The road would be more than a highway; Vigue calls it a “transportation, utility and communications corridor,” a 2,000-foot-wide swath that leaves room for future needs — whatever they might be. “No one can define what the needs are 20 to 50 years from now,” he says.’
                                                                                                                  ………thank you for you attention to these matters,
Peter Brenc
Dover Foxcroft
564-8687
 a Friend of the Piscataquis Valley
(note) Please feel free to forward this letter to whomever may be interested

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