Senate Republican Office
Sherman Marsh Wetland Banking Project in Newcastle Off the Table
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUSTA- In a letter dated January 27, David Bernhardt, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT), informed interested parties, including Sen. Dana Dow (R-Lincoln), that MDOT is no longer considering the use of eminent domain to acquire Sherman Marsh in Newcastle for the purpose of conservation easements.
The letter stated: “Upon hearing the concerns of Newcastle Property owners and after careful consideration, I have decided to forego the acquisition of conservation easements by eminent domain.” The letter went on to state that “I understand that the use of eminent domain is something to be used sparingly and never taken for granted.”
The letter was written in response to the contentious public meeting held in December where Berndhart and his staff spoke about the MDOT’s plans to put easements on 16 residences along Sherman Marsh for a wetland bank to mitigate for the destruction of wetlands in other parts of the state for road construction.
Sen. Dow, who attended the meeting and heard from numerous landowners that would have been impacted by this decision, was concerned by the fact that MDOT planned to use the land to mitigate a problem elsewhere and, in fulfilling his promise to help the residents around Sherman Marsh, submitted LR 192, “An Act Regarding Eminent Domain,” put forward by those concerned citizens.
This bill would have stated that MDOT cannot use eminent domain for the use of conservation easements. But upon receiving the January 27 letter, he decided that legislation was no longer needed to protect the best interests of his constituents.
“I was very glad to learn that this issue was resolved without the need for legislative interference,” said Sen. Dow. “This just goes to show how powerful public input can be throughout the planning process.”