April 27, 2013

Another View: Despite columnist's jokes, Agenda 21 is serious threat

A column ridiculing Gov. LePage neglects to mention creeping control by planners.

By ZACK BEISSWANGER

I shouldn't be surprised that Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich reduced the concerns of those opposed to Agenda 21 to the straw man so often summoned by those who wield the term "conspiracy theory" as a epithet. ("Agenda 21 Conspiracy theory gets unexpected boost," April 23.)

The caricature painted by his column glosses over legitimate concerns about the kind of planning so lauded by the Press Herald (see "Our View: Form-based zoning a good place to start," April 4).

Kesich states that local control should neutralize any outside interests that might seek to take advantage of residents. Why, then, are town meetings (like the one in Standish) being run by staff from Sustain Southern Maine or GrowSmart Maine?

Their names may sound benign enough, but these are still corporate structures that have no responsibility to local residents, and whose boards of directors include real estate developers who would have an interest in influencing zoning policies.

As Steve Hirshon wrote, commenting on the progress of Portland's Bayside Project in an April 1 letter to the editor, "Developers propose whatever they want and say it conforms with 'A New Vision for Bayside.' " This kind of slick deception is exactly what worries the anti-Agenda 21 crowd.

Perhaps their fears are misplaced or exaggerated, but they are certainly not baseless.

But then, it would be hard to give any credibility to these "kooks" while ridiculing Paul LePage, the obvious point of this and many other Press Herald opinion pieces.

Zack Beisswanger is a resident of Sanford.

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