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Regulators want to limit coastal development to protect Maine’s sand dunes

The remains of a shore front road lay on the beach near homes destroyed by a severe nor'easter that lashed the East Coast on April 17, 2007, in the Ferry Beach section of Saco.

Posted on September 25, 2023

State environmental regulators are seeking to further limit coastal development to protect sand dunes from rising sea levels. The new rule would require that planning be based on new dune maps created by the Maine Geological Survey.

At the Board of Environmental Protection’s hearing on Thursday, Maine Audubon wildlife biologist Laura Minich Zitske spoke in support of the rule change.

“Sea level is rising. Things are changing. It is imperative that we respond and can proactively protect our coastal communities and use the best available geology,” Minich Zitske said.

But land-use attorney Sandra Guay warned that the rule change will affect buyers, realtors and code officers that have relied on older maps to make decisions.

“The reality is those map changes that are occurring are significant and are affecting a lot of people. It’s not minor. And the DEP tells people to go to these maps. It’s all part of the approval process,” Guay said.

The change will go before the Legislature next year.



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