Moosehead plan gets OK

BANGOR (AP) — A sprawling resort and residential development at the gateway to Maine's North Woods that would be the largest of its kind in the state won a state planning board's unanimous approval Wednesday.

Pat Wellenbach/Associated Press

A protester is arrested after interrupting a meeting held by the Land Use Regulation Commission  in Bangor on Wednesday. The Commission voted to approve Plum Creek Timber Co.'s plan to develop an area by Moosehead Lake.

Plum Creek Timber Co.'s proposal was approved nearly five years after the Seattle-based company announced plans to build two resorts and more than 2,000 housing units near Moosehead Lake.

Critics said the development will bring traffic and congestion and threaten the character of the North Woods, a region made famous by writer Henry David Thoreau. Supporters said it will give an economic boost to the region and result in hundreds of thousands of acres of forest lands being preserved.

Even with the state Land Use Regulation Commission's approval, it could be years before construction begins. Plum Creek would need to win permits for construction, and opponents said they intend to file a lawsuit to stop the development.

James Kraft, an attorney for Plum Creek, said the company went through an exhaustive process to win final state approval, making several changes and downsizing the plans over the years.

"It may not be the perfect plan, but everybody up there agreed it was a good plan," Kraft said.

Plum Creek first announced in 2004 that it planned to subdivide its holdings in the Moosehead region and build a development that would include nearly 1,000 house lots, two resorts, three recreational-vehicle parks, a golf course and a marina.

To gain approval, Plum Creek petitioned the land-use commission to rezone nearly 400,000 acres of land. Plum Creek officials say development will be limited to an area spread out over 16,900 acres, with the company donating or selling conservation easements on 363,000 acres where public access would be guaranteed and future residential development prohibited.

The final development now calls for 821 house lots as well as two resorts with more than 1,200 housing units - houses, hotel rooms or condominiums - at Big Moose Mountain and Lilly Bay.

From the start, opponents said the plan was inappropriate for what they say is the largest undeveloped tract east of the Mississippi River. Thoreau wrote about the area 150 years ago after traveling the waterways and forests that shaped many of his ideas about nature.

Opponents also claimed the regulatory process was flawed, with the commission taking on an advocacy role for Plum Creek.

Two Maine-based conservation groups, the Forest Ecology Network and RESTORE: The North Woods, said Wednesday they intend to file a lawsuit in state court seeking to overturn the commission's decision.

Jonathan Carter, executive director of the Forest Ecology Network, said the commission "switched sides" as it considered the Plum Creek application.

"Rather than being an advocate for the unorganized townships, it became the architect and advocate for Plum Creek development," Carter said.

But other conservation groups said the plan creates conservation easements that will prevent future haphazard development over hundreds of thousands of acres. The plan also preserves public access, guarantees selective tree cutting to preserve the area's forest, and provides ecological protections, said Alan Hutchinson, executive director of the Forest Society of Maine, a Bangor-based land trust.

"This concept plan puts all those guarantees in place that you wouldn't have otherwise," Hutchinson said.

Prior to the vote, police arrested several protesters who disrupted the meeting, yelled at board members and accused them of selling out.

The protesters were identified as members of the Native Forest Network, a grass-roots organization that has been vocal in its opposition to the development.

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Comments

Tira Cottrell's picture

I grew up just "down the

I grew up just "down the road" from this area. I now live on the west coast (Washington State) and my company has had dealings with Plum Creek. If this is allowed in Maine, you will regret it! Here in Washington state, it is nothing for a company to clear cut thousands of acres! it looks horrible and devastates wildlife. Please, do not allow this to happen to Maine!

Jan Bachelder's picture

Look folks, like it or not,

Look folks, like it or not, THEY own the land. I'd like any of you who own any amount of land whatsoever to let someone else come in and tell you what you can or cannot do with it. The blunt fact is that Maine needs some outside funding. They are keeping the majority of it in the same condition that it is now. If you don't like it, you'd better put up some bucks and buy it back. The time to bitch and moan is over.

 's picture

It's not public land. Plum

It's not public land. Plum Creek purchased it. Let Plum Creek make a return on their investment, or purchase the land from them.

I totally agree with Dave

I totally agree with Dave and think this will be a vast improvement for this part of the State.

Jay Crafts's picture

THIS WILL PROVE TO BE A HUGE

THIS WILL PROVE TO BE A HUGE MISTAKE>>>>> MONEY WINS AGAIN>>>> VERY SAD TO KNOW ALL THESE YUPPIES WILL BE FLYING INTO MOOSEHEAD ON THEIR PRIVATE PLANES. MOOSEHEAD WILL BE NO DIFFERENT THEN SEBAGO........

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

the company went through an

the company went through an exhaustive process to win final state approval Yeah HOW MUCH TO GREASE THE HANDS OF THE STATE BEAUCRATS AND POLITICANS??? A full investigation should be held to find out the corrupted officals and put them in jail and throw away the key!!!!! AND THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN WE NEED A SEPERATE ARM OF THE LAW TO INVESTIGATE ALL CORRUPTION WITH THE ABILITY TO WIRE TAP AND SNOOP WITHOUT COURT ORDER OR IF IT BE REQUIRED AND IF ANY PART OF THE JUDGES OFFICE TELLS OF THE ODER THEY GET 35 YEARS IN PRISION ENOUGH TO STOP THOSE BEING INVESTIGATED FROM KNOWING THEY ARE. AND ALL PROVEN QUILTY SHOULD RECIEVE NO LESS THAN 10 YEARS OOOOH YOU WOULD SEE A HELL OF A LOT LESS OF THIS CRAP GOING ON!!!!!

NO !!!! Leave the land the

NO !!!! Leave the land the way it is. We don't need a resort or any other establishments built in the Moosehead Region...Let it stay beautiful...

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