October 20, 2019
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Timber company abandons controversial plan to develop resorts in Moosehead Lake region

Darren Fishell | BDN
Darren Fishell | BDN
Motorcycles make their way down a dirt road on the east side of Moosehead lake amid the fall colors in October 2016.

A company that spent years trying to bring two resorts, 1,000 second home lots, a golf course and other tourist attractions to the Moosehead Lake region appears to have finally given up on those efforts amid economic challenges that started with the Great Recession.

This week, Weyerhaeuser filed a petition with the state body that oversees development in Maine’s Unorganized Territory seeking to undo a zoning plan first passed in 2009 that would have allowed development to go forward on about 17,000 acres.

Plum Creek Timber Co., the largest landowner in the Moosehead Lake region that has since been acquired by Weyerhaeuser, first unveiled its development goals in 2005. In 2011, Maine’s top court upheld the land-use changes the state commission had agreed to two years earlier.

Then, the region’s residents spent years waiting for the resorts and housing to arrive.

Now, in paperwork filed with Maine’s Land Use Planning Commission, Weyerhaeuser said that the 2008-09 recession “forever changed the United States development landscape,” making it “no longer practical to implement” its proposed developments.

The company has not started any of the development, and it is asking the state to undo the 2009 zoning changes to its land so the company can switch to pursuing sustainable timber harvesting there, according to Luke Muzzy, Weyerhaeuser’s senior land asset manager. The company also hopes that undoing the change will “provide near-term predictability” for itself, state regulators and people in the region who have wondered about the prospect of major development.

Although Weyerhaeuser is seeking to undo the 2009 zoning change, state regulators said more than 390,000 acres that went into conservation as part of the development deal will remain permanently protected.

A Weyerhaeuser representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



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