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Maine Lawmakers Consider 'Agenda 21' Bill
03/08/2013   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

A bill under debate in Augusta is pitting local development planners against activists who are warning of a takeover of local property rights by the United Nations. At the center of the controversy is something called "Agenda 21." Approved by the U.N. more than 20 years ago, the sustainability policy is crafted to promote careful planning of economic development growth through measures that promote conservation and improve the environment. But opponents who gathered at the State House this week say that's just a facade for world domination. A.J. Higgins has more.

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If the United Nations really is secretly attempting to globally implement policy under the cryptically titled Agenda 21, then former Republican state Rep. Henry Joy says Eleanor Roosevelt is to blame.

The former first lady, Joy says, was a passionate advocate of the policies that created the UN in 1945. "Unfortunately, since its creation, it's been a millstone around the neck of this country," Joy said.

Joy, a longtime Aroostook County lawmaker from Crystal who served eight terms in the Maine House, says most member states of the U.N. would like to see the destruction of the U.S. Constitution. That's why Joy and others came before the Legislature's Judiciary Committee to voice support for a bill that would prohibit the state, counties and municipalities from implementing any of the policies contained in Agenda 21.

"If you allow the Agenda 21 to be implemented in the state of Maine, you can forget about eminent domain by the state or any other organization. It will be done by the United Nations," Joy said. "And, unfortunately, one of the things that they want to do in this is to reduce the population of the world from its current number."

Blaine Richardson, a former Republican candidate for Maine's 2nd Congressional District, says the stated goals of Agenda 21 look perfectly acceptable. But the intent, he says, is to take control.

"This is about no private land ownership anywhere on the face of the earth, and it's well underway in Maine," Richardson said. "It happened invisibly. Comprehensive plan? That sounds good. You know, we want sustainable growth in our town. That sounds good. We want to protect our water. That sounds good. That's how it was masked. You can't be against it because it's sustainability, the environment, global warming. And in the end, half of you will be gone if these people have their way."

Sustainable growth advocates say they're at a loss to understand the fear sraised by supporters of the bill. Nancy Smith is a former state lawmaker from Monmouth and the executive director of Grow Smart Maine.

"What I have not been able to do in listening to all of the testimony that we've heard so far is make the connection between what we do in our communities and Agenda 21, I can't make that leap," Smith said. "I don't understand why there is the connection there."

Smith says there is nothing in Agenda 21 that prohibits local control. And Jane LaFluer, who runs Friends of Midcoast Maine, says the legislation aimed at Agenda 21 runs contrary to her group's goals of economic growth of the local economy, improvement of property values and community involvement on planning issues.

"This bill will stifle public opinion and community engagement," LaFleur said. "Thinking about our future strategically allows our communities to know what to expect and plan for their own future. If we want to attract investments and businesses to our area, we need to plan for them."

Lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee are expected to continue their work on the bill later this month.



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