BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission gave its approval to one of the most contentious elements of Plum Creek Timber Co.’s proposed development plan for the Moosehead Lake region as it neared the end of final deliberations.
Despite misgivings, commissioners signed off on a resort on Lily Bay, an unspoiled area that conservationists wanted left alone, LURC Director Catherine Carroll said Wednesday.
Critics and supporters of Plum Creek’s proposal for the largest development in the state’s history had their final say Tuesday before the start of deliberations, which continued Wednesday with commissioners going through staff recommendations line by line.
Once deliberations end, LURC’s plan will be presented early next month to Plum Creek, which will have two weeks to either accept or reject the package.
“It’s an all-or-nothing deal,” Carroll said.
If Plum Creek rejects the changes, then it’s the end of the road for the development proposed three years ago and twice revised since then. If Plum Creek approves the changes, then LURC’s staff would craft a final plan for approval early next year.
All told, Seattle-based Plum Creek is proposing 975 house lots, two large resorts and protection of 430,000 acres in the Moosehead Lake region.
At a press conference Tuesday, representatives from the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Maine Audubon noted that more than 1,500 people submitted letters this summer in opposition to the Lily Bay development, while seven people supported it.
Carroll conceded Wednesday that it was “with heartburn” that commissioners agreed to accept a staff recommendation to allow a resort on Lily Bay. If there’s going to be development, she said, then LURC’s proposal for up to 404 housing units is the best way to do it.
Critics accused commission staff of ignoring the will of Maine people by endorsing a plan that still allows a resort and subdivisions at Lily Bay.
Supporters said Plum Creek’s proposal represented a balance of interests and that a planned development over 30 years was better than haphazard development.