A group of local citizens has voiced strong opposition to an effort for Midcoast communities to coordinate their local transportation plans, claiming it is part of an international movement for a one-world government.

Horatio “Ted” Cowan III of Rockland, who ran for the Maine House of Representatives this year, was one of several members of the Maine Tea Party to speak out at a Nov. 10 meeting of the Gateway 1 Steering Committee meeting held at Rockland City Hall. The residents spoke out during the opening public comment session of the Gateway 1 meeting.

Cowan said he was “not very happy” when he learned of the Gateway 1 plans and said that many of the key issues being pushed by Gateway 1 are the same as the Agenda 21 and Wildlands Project being pushed by the United Nations.

Cowan said Gateway 1 was using the facade of local land-use objectives to achieve the goals of the United Nations effort.

“Beneath a facade of laudable objectives and supposedly sustainable development, good-sounding titles, you are — frankly — in the process of implementing one of the radical, unpopular, socialist, central planning directives intended to shift the population from rural areas into high-density areas,” Cowan said.

The Rockland man said nine out of 10 of the recommendations of the committee would result in populations being moved to centralized population regions.

“This sounds like a centralized planner, extremist environmentalist dream,” Cowan said.

Gateway 1 was created in 2004 to “collaboratively and regionally plan for land use and transportation change in order to preserve both the capacity of Route 1 as a regional arterial and economic lifeline and the quality of life in the Midcoast,” according to its Web site. The creation of Gateway 1 came after vocal opposition from some residents about the widening of Route 1 in Warren. The Maine Department of Transportation said the Gateway 1 process would allow more participation by citizens before road decisions were made by the state.

Don White, chairman of the Gateway 1 Implementation Steering Committee, said he had never heard of either Agenda 21 or the Wildlands Project until the residents turned out at the Nov. 10 meeting. He said he is not part of a United Nations effort to shift populations.

“This is a homegrown effort,” White said.

He said he became interested in serving on Gateway 1 to preserve the quality of life in the region.

“If we don’t do something now, we will wonder in 20 to 30 years why we have a four-lane highway running through our communities,” White said.

The steering committee consists of two representatives — which includes one alternate — from each of 20 communities from Brunswick to Stockton Springs.

At the Nov. 10 meeting, Alan Lowberg of Washington also said the Gateway 1 goals were in line with Agenda 21.

“If we let this corridor project go through, we’re going be dictated to from foreign bodies on how to use land in America. This is a slippery slope to open the door to foreign courts on how to implement our judicial system and a host of other things,” Lowberg said.

Wayne Leach of Warren agreed, saying that this was a dangerous thing.

“This is bigger than the health-care thing,” Leach said.

The residents turned out after an “action alert” was sent out to Tea Party activists, urging them to attend the meeting and express outrage over the Gateway 1 proposals.

The executive summary for Gateway 1 states, “At the heart of the plan is a marriage of land use and transportation. The plan recommends a pattern of future development that will reduce stress on the transportation system, along with a set of strategic transportation investments that will create significant capacity for growth in jobs and population within that pattern of development. The plan also brings together into a coordinated whole the local and state governments responsible for land use and transportation system decisions.”

White said one goal could eventually be a regional bus system to reduce the amount of vehicle traffic along Route 1.

Sixteen of the 20 communities along this section of Route 1 agreed last year to move ahead on developing proposed inter-local agreements between the communities on common land-use and transportation planning. The four that opted out of the process were Warren, Northport, Wiscasset and Woolwich.

In January, Warren Town Manager Grant Watmough said selectmen did not see a major benefit to the town from being in the program and therefore notified Gateway 1 late last year it was withdrawing. In addition, selectmen were concerned that Gateway 1 sounded like a new overseeing body that might take away some local control in the town, according to Watmough.

The remaining communities have received grants from the state transportation department to work on those goals. Camden used its grant to create an inventory of commercial activities along Route 1; Rockport used its grant for a study of extending the sewer system; and Rockland was to update its comprehensive plan.

Between now and June 30, White said, the goal is for the communities to sign inter-local agreements. He said that the public has the ultimate say on whether to adopt these agreements. He noted that in communities with a town meeting form of government — such as Camden and Rockport — the residents will get to decide at a town meeting. In Rockland, the City Council will make the decision.

White said the Gateway 1 recommendations do not make communities do anything that their citizens do not support. He also said the statements by the critics who spoke Nov. 10 were mistaken, in that there is no recommendation to move people to central areas, but that projections based on current demographic trends indicate that future growth will be in certain areas. To deal with that shift, the planners are coming up with recommendations.

The proposed corridor action plan developed by Gateway 1 seeks to have communities amend their comprehensive plans and zoning laws to conform to the regional recommendations. Those include:

* Limit the driveways on routes 1 and 90
* Allow for increased residential and commercial densities in designated core growth areas
* Designate visual distinctive and noteworthy segments of the corridor as rural areas
* Adopt a rural conservation plan
* Enact building permit caps in rural parts of communities
The plan calls for a Gateway Corridor Coalition to formally share certain land use and transportation planning authorities among corridor communities, the Maine Department of Transportation, and the Maine State Planning Office once 12 communities have approved the inter-local agreements.
The draft inter-local agreement requires that the Corridor Coalition be notified when a project is presented to the planning board of member communities if it will impact Route 1 or Route 90. The decision on those projects, however, will remain with the boards of the communities. A municipality can withdraw from the Corridor Coalition with one year’s notice.

According to the United Nations Web site, Agenda 21 is a “comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.”

In 1992, 178 governments approved a proposal called the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests.

The principles stated in that resolve note that states (countries) have the right to use their resources as they see fit, but that it should not do harm to other countries’ resources.

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