BROWNVILLE, Maine — Now that an auction of more than 3,000 acres in Brownville has been postponed, a developer said Monday he is moving ahead as fast as possible to develop a portion of the property into a megaresort called The Reserve at Norton Pond.
Jim Dennehy, president of WHG Development LLC of California, told Brownville Planning Board members Monday night by conference call that the economy has made the process difficult and lengthier, but he still is forging ahead.
“I’ve never seen it as tough as it is today,” Dennehy said, but “things are starting to loosen up.”
Great Oak Capital LLC had placed the property owned by WHG in the Schoodic and Ebeemee lakes region up for public sale on March 3 for breach of mortgage conditions, but the sale was postponed after negotiations with Dennehy.
Dennehy said Monday he is continuing with his plan to develop a year-round resort featuring a four-star hotel, train station, a convention center, spa, golf school and golf course, restaurants and time-share units over a 10-year period in Brownville. “We are committed,” he said.
“You don’t know how happy I am sitting here still talking about the resort,” board member Lynn Weston told Dennehy on Monday.
At Dennehy’s request, the planning board voted Monday to give Dennehy another extension of one year before he submits his final plan. He already has had several extensions since preliminary approval was given for his subdivision request in September 2005.
WHG initially had six months to file a final plan with the town. The last “extension” was set to expire on April 1, 2010. Since the town has no authority to grant an extension, the board earlier provided Dennehy with preliminary approval, which allows him as much time as he needs.
Dennehy told the board it had nothing to lose with the additional extension, adding it would be the board and WHG that would make this project happen. He said he has been in discussions with several first-class hotel chains such as the Hyatt and the Marriott and plans to return to those firms with a final proposal. In addition, Dennehy said he was in the process of having the $40,000 to $60,000 renderings done so residents can get a picture of what the resort will look like.
“It’s going to be really nice,” Dennehy said.
Board member Nancy Cook said cottage owners at Schoodic Lake have expressed concern about the proposed development.
Toward that end, Dennehy said that once a final plan is submitted, the project will go through an “incredibly” lengthy application process with the Department of Environmental Protection. The project has to meet the state’s stringent requirements, he said.