GREENVILLE, Maine — While reluctant to spend more funds for legal advice, selectmen on Wednesday agreed they should continue to show support for the Land Use Regulation Commission’s approval of Plum Creek’s rezoning petition.
Earlier this month, selectmen authorized the town’s attorney to enter a “Notice of Appearance and Statement of Position on Appeal” on behalf of the town after appeals were filed by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Forest Ecology Network and RESTORE: The North Woods filed appeals.
The three organizations are opposed to Plum Creek’s plan to develop 975 house lots and two large resorts and permanently preserve more than 400,000 acres of forestland in the Moosehead Lake region.
“The issue is this, we’ve now entered into the legal system by making a notice of appearance and have made a statement saying we don’t think the appeal should be upheld,” Greenville Town Manager John Simko said Wednesday. He said by that action, the board has publicly shown it supports LURC’s decision. “If we want to proceed there’s no way for us to proceed without, in some manner, having legal counsel,” he said Wednesday.
The Piscataquis County Economic Development Council also has filed a notice of appearance in the appeals process and has retained a law firm to file briefs on its behalf, according to Simko. While the organizations that filed appeals said there was no demonstrated need for this type of development in the Moosehead Lake region, both PCEDC and town officials feel otherwise.
Simko said it might be possible to join together with PCEDC and share its attorney fees in the process.
Selectman Eugene Murray said the town made no appropriation for legal advice for this matter. “We have no money to do that,” he said. He suggested, and the board supported, that the town go as far as it could by joining the PCEDC’s effort.
Also on Wednesday, selectmen voted to apply for state grant funds for the snowmobile program but tabled action on a proposed contract between the town and Greenville ITS Snowmobile Trail Grooming Inc. until the full board was in attendance. Two of the five board members were ill Wednesday.
Simko said the town has contracted with the trail grooming business for the past two years and the new contract is very similar to the past contracts. The total cost for the approximately 80 miles of trail grooming is $54,285. The town will get full reimbursement from the state for the grooming.
One significant difference in the contract, Simko said, is that the business will take on all the preseason work. In the past, the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club did the work, he said.
As discussed previously, the town will continue to allow the business to operate the town’s last remaining Piston Bully groomer for the cost of maintenance, Simko noted. There will be a separate agreement where the business will buy the groomer from the town over a two-year period — there are two years left on the town’s loan. The owners have agreed to make the last two remaining payments of about $21,090 on the machine over two years. They then will own the groomer for the two payments.
Simko said the town had attempted to sell the groomer outright, but no one was interested in paying what was owed.