Plum Creek Timber Co. could get the final green light on its Moosehead Lake region development plan as early as next spring under an ambitious schedule outlined Wednesday.
Last month, the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission largely endorsed Plum Creek’s historic concept plan after a grueling and contentious public review of the application. The plan rezones land for 975 house lots and two large resorts near Moosehead, but would trigger the permanent conservation of more than 400,000 acres in the region.
Company officials and LURC staff will spend the next several months incorporating all of the commission’s recommended changes into the final plan. LURC staff said Wednesday they hope to open a public comment period on the revised plan around mid-February, with a final vote coming sometime in May.
“This schedule is very ambitious and we need to think of it as a goal rather than an expectation,” Aga Pinette, senior planner with LURC, told the commission during its monthly meeting in Bangor.
The commission made a long list of changes to Plum Creek’s mammoth proposal, some of which were substantial in nature.
However, the commission did not reduce the total number of house lots or scrap the proposed resort at Lily Bay, which was arguably the most controversial aspect of the hotly debated plan.
Thousands of people have participated in LURC’s review of the Plum Creek application, which has been revised several times since its unveiling in April 2005. While supporters view the planned growth and land conservation as a pathway to economic revival of the region, critics contend the luxury second homes and ill-defined resorts could spoil the natural beauty that draw tourists to Moosehead.
LURC approval of the 30-year concept plan is only the first approval Plum Creek must receive before building. The company or future developers will have to submit individual sub-division and resort plans and receive other permits from the agency before breaking ground on any projects.
And Pinette said LURC staff could make further changes to the concept plan after the public comment period tentatively scheduled for February.
“That should disabuse us of the notion that the Plum Creek project is over,” said commission chairman Bart Harvey.
“There is a still a lot of work to be done,” Pinette added.