Moosehead Lake plan heads back to drawing board

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AUGUSTA (AP) – Long-awaited public hearings on Plum Creek Timber Co.’s massive development proposal for the Moosehead Lake region have been delayed as the company goes back to the drawing board to revise its controversial plan.

The Land Use Regulation Commission said Thursday it suspended its schedule of hearings set to begin four months from now after Plum Creek said it wanted to make changes in the proposal that includes 975 house lots and two resorts.

LURC Director Catherine Carroll said she wasn’t surprised by Plum Creek’s request because it is not unusual for an applicant to fine-tune a proposal before it goes to a public hearing. She noted that her agency’s review staff has been offering ideas on how the application might be modified.

Luke Muzzy, Plum Creek’s senior land asset manager, declined to go into specifics about the changes but said they include some shifts in location. Critics have sought to concentrate development in and near Greenville in order to protect more remote lakes and ponds in an area often termed the gateway to Maine’s North Woods. “We’re looking at a lot of things,” said Muzzy, and “we’re still finalizing the details on them.” He said Plum Creek hoped to submit the changes to LURC in the next two to three weeks.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine, which has led the opposition to the project, said it was encouraged by the Plum Creek request.

The council had pushed the commission to set back the start of the hearings to July at the earliest.

LURC voted early this month to adopt a hearing schedule that called for the first daylong public hearing to be held in Greenville on May 19. A series of “technical” sessions involving interveners would follow, setting the stage for a second public comment session June 2 in Bangor and Augusta, possibly followed by a third week of technical hearings.

Plum Creek filed its application in April 2005 before making revisions designed to address concerns expressed at a series of LURC “scoping sessions.”

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