GREENVILLE (AP) – A new report concludes that a proposed development around Moosehead Lake could help restore the region’s once-robust tourism economy and reverse population declines in the area that serves as the gateway to Maine’s North Woods.

Eastern Maine Development Corp. acknowledges in a summary of its report that the development could have adverse impacts on traffic flow and public services. But those effects could be mitigated with low-cost solutions or pre-negotiated agreements with the developers, an EMDC representative said Wednesday when presenting a summary of the report.

“We do not endorse the project nor do we stand against it,” Jonathan Daniels, EMDC’s president and chief executive officer, told Greenville selectmen and town staff. “It is our estimation that there are…impacts, but they can be mitigated.”

Plum Creek Timber Co. is in the process of seeking a zoning change on 420,000 acres in the Moosehead region as part of a 30-year plan to develop nearly 1,000 house lots, two resorts and an industrial park. The Land Use Regulation Commission’s review of the proposal is expected to last well into next year.

Plum Creek contracted with EMDC to produce a report analyzing the development’s impact on housing, tourism, education, transportation and other government services in the Moosehead region. The Bangor-based nonprofit dedicated to helping businesses and communities grow presented a summary of the report to Greenville and Piscataquis County officials on Wednesday.

The report does not discuss the impact on the region’s natural resources, which is likely to be among the most contentious issues in an upcoming state review.

Environmental groups have taken aim at the proposal, maintaining that it is too big and would open the door to wilderness sprawl, threatening the character of Maine’s fabled North Woods, an area dear to environmentalists and lovers of the outdoors.

But the report’s summary concludes that the development would have many positive impacts on local communities.

The positive effects include having more students in the Greenville-region school system and a broader client base for Greenville’s C.A. Dean Hospital and Jackman Regional Health Center, which have been forced to downsize in recent years because of lower demand.

It further says the region could experience a partial return to the heyday of its tourism economy, when the Kineo Hotel alone could accommodate up to 1,000 guests.

“The existence of substantial, but underutilized, infrastructure means that the proposed plan development will require much less infrastructure investment than would be required in a totally undeveloped area,” the report says.

The report acknowledges that the development would lead to increased traffic and place additional strain on fire, police and emergency medical services, as well as Greenville’s landfill.

But those negative impacts could be offset, or at least lessened, through advanced planning and agreements so developers carry their share of the burden, the authors wrote.

With its largely positive take on Plum Creek’s development plans, EMDC’s report will likely be scrutinized by groups critical of the development. There were no representatives of those groups present at either of Wednesday’s two meetings where the report summary was presented.

John Simko, Greenville’s town manager, said he was pleased with the comprehensive nature of the summary.

“We know the development will occur. People want to come here. It’s just how we manage it,” Simko said.


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