Plum Creek submits plan; LURC to review revised proposal

This story was published on April 28, 2006 on Page A1 in all editions of the Bangor Daily News

Plum Creek Timber Co. submitted its revised plans for the Moosehead Lake region to state regulators Thursday, setting the stage for a highly anticipated battle over the largest development proposal in Maine history.

Plum Creek officials delivered the updated plan – more than 1,000 pages long – to the Land Use Regulation Commission just before close of the business day Thursday. LURC executive director Catherine Carroll said the commission’s staff likely will begin reviewing the application today.

“What’s next is we need to determine whether it is complete,” Carroll said Thursday evening. “We have simply received it. We have not accepted the application.”

LURC’s formal acceptance of the rezoning application will trigger what some observers regard as a definitive battle over the future of Maine’s North Woods. The public review process is likely to be the largest in state history.

Plum Creek submitted its first petition to rezone roughly 420,000 acres around Moosehead Lake one year ago. LURC, however, deemed the application incomplete. In the months since, officials with the Seattle-based timber company have revised the plan in response to the outpouring of public comment on the original application.

Company officials have released some details of the revised plans in recent weeks. Plum Creek still plans to sell approximately 975 house lots and proposes two resorts for the Moosehead region, but the location and scope of the development have changed.

Plum Creek officials also have touted a plan to permanently conserve more than 400,000 acres of company land near Moosehead through partnerships with The Nature Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Forest Society of Maine.

Other environmental organizations have criticized the revisions made public in recent weeks. Critics contend that much of the shorefront development will permanently injure the wilderness qualities that draw tourists to Moosehead. They also point out that the conservation framework is contingent on Plum Creek receiving LURC approval for its development.

Jim Lehner, general manager of Plum Creek’s Northeast region, said he has a “high degree of confidence” that the revised application will be deemed complete. Lehner said he is also highly optimistic LURC will approve the overall plan.

“We’ll just take it from here,” Lehner said.

LURC plans to make printed copies of the application available for public inspection in Greenville, Rockwood, Beaver Cove, Jackman and Augusta. The commission also will post the application on its Web site and will make electronic copies of the plan upon request.

For more information, go to www.maine.gov/doc/lurc or call 287-2631.

A1 for Friday, April 28, 2006

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