State official recommends denial of Big Moose rezoning application for housing development

Eagle Rock, a bald outcropping on the northwest end of Big Moose Mountain, in June.
Aislinn Sarnacki
Eagle Rock, a bald outcropping on the northwest end of Big Moose Mountain, in June. Buy Photo
Posted Feb. 12, 2014, at 3:35 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A senior planner with the Land Use Planning Commission has recommended that the panel reject an application to rezone part of Big Moose Township to accommodate a 13-lot residential subdivision.

The LUPC is holding its monthly meeting at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer on Feb. 12 and will officially vote on the application, but the decision is already posted on the agency’s website.

However, a Greenville real estate broker representing the landowners says that the rejection isn’t necessarily the final chapter in the process.

Esther and Charles Wagenheim of Pittsford, Vt. have owned the property about six miles northwest of Greenville since 2005 and would like to have it rezoned from general management-great pond protection to residential development.

The Wagenheims’ firm, C&E Real Estate LLC, owns approximately 46.1 acres while Adam Moskovitz of Bangor owns an adjacent 4.8-acre lot.

Hugh Coxe, a senior planner with LUPC, said that one of the major reasons he’s recommending that the panel oppose the application is because of LUPC’s adjacency rule. The general guidelines are that any property to be rezoned must be one mile or less away from any other compatible development.

The Wagenheim’s property is approximately 1.9 miles by road from a subdivision developed with seven dwellings. “The proposal to rezone 50.9 acres to accommodate 13 lots would roughly double the scale and intensity of this compatible development,” Coxe wrote. “Such an increase is inconsistent with the type and intensity component of the adjacency principle and, therefore, inconsistent with this principle and the CLUP [comprehensive land use plan].”

Coxe also wrote that the petitioners “do not present any rationale or supporting evidence for rezoning an area to accommodate a 13-lot subdivision, beyond claiming the rezoning would ‘maintain the needed inventory’ of residential lots. The petitioners, however, have not provided information on the current inventory or what future inventory they believe is needed.”

Real estate broker Rodney Folsom, who is working with C&E, told the Observer that LUPC’s “concern seems to be rezoning the entire 50 acres in one shot. They seem to be open to doing it in phases with, say, 7-10 lots on 15-20 acres,” Folsom said. “If that’s the case, we’re okay and will reschedule the hearing for March.”

LUPC, in its 23-page decision, stated that applying planning principles “such as adjacency in individual rezonings helps provide for the maintenance of the natural character of the shoreland on Moosehead Lake.

“On the site scale, any future development on the property would require permit review and be subject to various standards, such as clearing standards, intended to address potential effects of development on the natural character of the shoreland.”

Esther Wagenheim and Folsom presented the rezoning plans to the Piscataquis County Commissioners in late December, citing the demand for luxury vacation homes in the Moosehead Lake Region. The lots would vary in size from 1 to 3.5 acres and typically would have 200 feet of frontage on Moosehead Lake.

Several local contractors also attended the meeting to express support for the rezoning, citing the economic impact during the construction phase and the addition of the homes to the unorganized territory’s tax base.

The commissioners voted at their Jan. 21 meeting to “support developments that are permitted by the Maine Land Use Planning Commission, specifically on the application … submitted by C and E Real Estate Properties.”

The decision by the commission may be appealed to superior court within 30 days after receipt of notice of the decision by a party to this proceeding, or within 40 days from the date of the decision “by any other aggrieved person,” according to LUPC.

There are two enforcement matters also on the Feb. 12 LUPC meeting agenda, both related to properties in Township 1, Range 9 WELS near Ambajejus and Pemadumcook lakes in northeast Piscataquis County.

Lawrence Smith was cited for constructing a deck too close to the normal high-water mark, without permission and in excess of LUPC standards.

Allen Pangburn was cited for construction of a garage in violation of the minimum setback requirement from a roadway.

 

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