Portland, Maine
July 27, 2007

Today, through our attorneys, RESTORE: The North Woods and the Forest Ecology Network (FEN) are filing a motion with the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) to dismiss the rezoning petition submitted by Plum Creek corporation for a massive development scheme in the Moosehead region.

There has been enormous public concern in recent years that misplaced development, unsustainable forest practices, and unstable ownerships threaten the ecological integrity, traditional recreational access, economic viability, and scenic beauty of Maine's North Woods.

During the past three years, Plum Creek corporation has submitted several versions of a proposal for the largest real estate development in Maine history. In April 2007, Plum Creek offered plan 3.0. Some of the development was moved around. However, the plan still presents a lot of problems.

Plum Creek’s newest plan includes just as many subdivision lots, just as many resorts, more residential units in total, and twice as many acres of development zones as before.

Plum Creek’s plan still represents the largest real estate development in Maine history. Plum Creek’s plan still represents a wholesale change in the wild character of the Moosehead region. Plum Creek’s plan is still the wrong kind and amount of development in the wrong place.

Plum Creek’s 2007 Moosehead development proposal
- doubles the area of the proposed development zones to 20,500 acres; that is bigger than the city of Portland
- increases residential units to more than 2,300, including at least 1000 subdivision lots; that is more than the number of houses currently in Greenville and Rockwood combined
- includes 2 major resorts totaling 5,300 acres
- adds 2 remote resort zones
- adds 5 commercial development zones
- includes 33 miles of shoreline in development zones
- allows lodges, mining, wind turbines, roads, mills, cell towers and other development in forest management zones in the so-called “balance easement”

We need appropriate development to support a growing ecotourism economy around Moosehead. However, polls have consistently shown that Mainers do not want the sort of development proposed by Plum Creek, which is too much and in too many of the wrong places in the Moosehead region.

For three years we have been saying that giving Plum Creek carte blanche to sprawl development over more than 20,000 acres in the Moosehead region during the next 30 years is completely counter to sound land use planning. Now it appears that it is not even legal.

We have asked two public interest attorneys to conduct a careful analysis of the legal authority of the Land Use Regulation Commission. Phil Worden, one of the lawyers, says the legal review shows that “in order for LURC to grant a landowner a thirty-year exemption from changes in zoning the agency must have clear legal authority from the legislature. We have found no such delegation of authority in the Maine statues or case law.”

Lynne Williams, a second lawyer working with RESTORE and FEN, points out that “LURC needs to be able to re-evaluate and update development plans on a regular basis. Locking in zoning for three decades amounts to a public agency giving its authority over to a private company.”

For this reason, our attorneys are filing a motion today asking LURC to dismiss Plum Creek’s rezoning application. Unless and until LURC has clear legislative authorization to give away its ability to make zoning changes that may be necessary over the next three decades, the Land Use Regulation Commission should immediately stop processing Plum Creek’s rezoning petition. As a former deputy director of LURC, I am confident that the agency will seriously consider our motion.

Here is how one author a century ago described the Moosehead area:

To Maine has frequently been applied the name of ‘the Switzerland of America’ on account of the superb panorama presented by the combination of lakes and mountains. Particularly may this be said of Moosehead....

Let’s not ruin this superb panorama.

P.O. Box 2118, Augusta, Maine 04338
phone: 207-628-6404
fax - 207-628-5741