SANDY RIVER PLANTATION – Maine Land Use Regulation Commission staff is recommending approval of a petition to rezone nearly 2,000 acres at Saddleback Ski Resort. It also backs an amended preliminary development plan.

Saddleback Land & Timber Corp. and Saddleback Inc., both entities of the Archie “Bill” Berry family, submitted the petition in February and a public hearing on the proposal in April. All public testimony at the latter was supportive, according to LURC staff documents.

The proposal is on LURC’s agenda for its 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, meeting at Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center in Presque Isle.

Saddleback Mountain owners have 8,087 acres, of which 1,960 acres were previously rezoned, and plan to invest about $120 million in the resort over the next decade to keep it economically viable and make it into a four season resort.

The petition calls for rezoning 1,898 acres in Sandy River and Dallas plantations from sub district designations that include general management, great pond protection and mountain area protection to planned development.

Petitioners also want to amend a 10-year plan that was initially approved with conditions when it was formerly owned Saddleback Mountain Inc. and Donald Breen, who submitted the plan in 1987. It was approved with conditions in 1989 and amended in 1994.

None of the development in that plan was done by the prior owner, a Saddleback Mountain representative formerly said, and the new owners, who bought the property in 2003 for more than $8 million, chose to do some of those projects but also have developed their own plans to expand the facility and mountain area.

The plan calls for more residential and commercial structures, including condominiums, more ski trails and lifts, roads and parking areas and increased snowmaking capabilities.