GREENVILLE, Maine — It has been seven years since Plum Creek’s senior land asset manager, Luke Muzzy, approached the Greenville Board of Selectmen about the firm’s plan for developing the Moosehead Lake Region. Over the years, Plum Creek’s original concept plan has gone through three major revisions and been delayed by challenges from environmental groups.
Plum Creek Timber Co. is the largest and most geographically diverse private landowner in the nation, with approximately 6.6 million acres in major timber-producing regions of the United States. Plum Creek has been given a 30-year window to develop its land holdings in the Moosehead Lake Region following an April ruling by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The ruling allows the firm to rezone 16,900 of its 1 million acres in northern Maine.
Plum Creek has tried since 2005 to build two resorts — one in Lily Bay and the other near Big Moose Mountain. The firm still needs to have the Land Use Regulation Commission approve any subdivision proposals to develop those properties.
“Right now those plans do not exist, so it may be awhile before we submit anything to LURC,” said Muzzy. “What we do have is our concept plan, which integrates our plan for the residential and commercial properties with recreational and economic opportunities in the region.”
Muzzy shared Plum Creek’s concept plan with the Greenville selectmen on Aug. 1. The plan calls for setting aside a vast amount of land for conservation and recreation. Plum Creek will place 363,000 of its 392,000 acres — 96 percent — into the Moosehead Lake Region Conservation Easement. Plum Creek also has sold 29,000 acres of its Moosehead Lake Region holdings to the Appalachian Mountain Club.
As development occurs, permanent easements will be granted throughout the land tract for public recreational use. Among the easements planned are 57 miles for road networks guaranteeing public vehicular access for recreational purposes, 80 miles for snowmobile trails, a 12-mile tract of the Mahoosucs-to-Moosehead trail project for snowshoeing and skiing and 121.8 acres reserved for hiking trails.
In addition, Plum Creek will provide funding to the state Bureau of Parks and Recreation for the construction, repair and maintenance of the trails, trailhead parking and associated trail amenities. The firm also will donate 50 acres for new recreational infrastructure for public boat landings.
Muzzy believes the commercial development and recreational opportunities will be a major economic boon to the area. He said the development, surrounded by nearly 2 million acres of conservation lands, has the potential to become the most popular recreational spot in the Northeast and along the Eastern Seaboard.
“I think this plan, especially the conservation and recreational component, can play a real key role in our economy. Our challenge is getting our arms around what we have here and making it benefit Greenville,” Muzzy said.
Plum Creek’s commercial and residential redevelopment plan will be limited to 2,025 units built over the next 30 years. The concept plan allows for the creation of 821 residential units and two resorts. The Lily Bay site will be a 1,852-acre resort with 404 units. The Big Moose Mountain resort will be 4,200 acres with 800 units.
Any structure within a commercial or residential zone was described as one unit with a bedroom. So residential structures, hotel suites or condominiums all would be classified as one unit, according to Muzzy.
Plum Creek also has established a stewardship fund to benefit the community. Two percent of each initial unit sale will be placed into the fund. The resale of any unit would require 0.5 percent of the transaction to be placed in the fund. The stewardship fund will be used for maintaining recreational infrastructure and affordable housing and to protect wildlife from invasive species.
The stewardship board will be composed of 16 local residents or representatives with ties to the state’s recreational industry. Greenville will have two board members appointed by the town’s selectmen.
Plum Creek also is donating 100 acres for low-income housing. There is a plan to donate 25 acres near Rum Ridge to Coastal Enterprises, which will in turn swap the land with the Charles A. Dean Hospital. This would allow the low-income property to be located on Spruce Street. This proposal already has been introduced to the Greenville planning board.
Muzzy requested that roundtable discussion take place in the future with community leaders and business people to further develop the economic potential created by the Plum Creek development project and the surrounding recreational opportunities.