by Kevin Miller
BANGOR, Maine — State regulators unanimously approved Plum Creek’s controversial Moosehead Lake development plan Wednesday afternoon following a brief disruption by protesters.
The Land Use Regulation Commission’s vote to rezone land for 975 house lots and two large resorts in the Moosehead region came more than four years after Plum Creek first unveiled its plan for the largest development proposal in Maine history.
As part of the rezoning, Plum Creek agreed to complete what is believed to be the second-largest conservation deal in U.S. history — a package of easements and land sales that will protect more than 400,000 acres in the region from future development.
“Four and a half years of work, and I think it is worth it,” commented Commissioner Stephen Wight.
Luke Muzzy, a Greenville native and Plum Creek employee who was a key architect of the plan, said the company was pleased that the concept plan received commission approval. But he pointed out that this is only the first step in the process.
Plum Creek must receive individual subdivision and resort permits from LURC before beginning construction. And two organizations, the Forest Ecology Network and RESTORE: The North Woods, announced plans Wednesday to appeal the decision to Superior Court.
“We’ve always said this is going to be a long-term plan, and it will be,” Muzzy said.
Bangor police arrested six protesters who disrupted the meeting just prior to the vote. Several of the protesters had locked arms with each other in front of the commissioners and denounced LURC’s process.
Police, who had a strong presence at the meeting, quickly moved in to clear the protesters, most of whom were carried from the room after refusing to cooperate. All six were charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing. One of the protesters also faces charges for resisting arrest and carrying a concealed knife.
“Just so you know, Plum Creek, this is just the beginning,” shouted one protester as she was being removed from the room. “We will be here every step of the way.”