Hello again from the center of the Plum Creek universe. We’re on Day 5 of the intervener sessions. At the moment the Commissioners are asking questions of Joe Brenneman a County Commissioner from Flathead County Montana who has dealt directly with Plum Creek’s developments. Flathead County is currently being sued by Plum Creek over some development proposals.
Mr. Brenneman is encouraging the Commission to be very, very careful about determining what is going to be sustainable. In Montana Plum Creek’s interpretation of doing the right thing has been limited to what is required by law. He’s been told by Plum Creek officials if the County wants more they’ll have to get the law changed. Also this morning was cross examination of Plum Creek’s resort expert. He revealed that it is the proposed conservation easements that make the resort potential attractive. Without the easements the value of the resorts would be diminished.
Part of yesterday was cross examination of Plum Creek’s economic expert Charles Colgan. NRCM’s legal team revealed that Mr. Colgan’s analysis showed that much of the recreational dollars that would potentially come to Moosehead would come at the expense of other Maine destinations. It was also revealed under cross examination that Plum Creek’s own economic analyses are inconsistent varying by as much as 40%. Affordable housing was also discussed. It has been estimated that the affordable housing would be in the $150,000 range. There was a lot of concern that this is much too expensive for the Moosehead Region.
The Maine Housing Authority testified that they are concerned that there will not be enough affordable housing or a mechanism in place to ensure that the housing remains affordable over time. Places like Jackson Hole, Wyoming were talked about as examples where starter homes begin in $400,000 range, far out of reach for long time local residents. By contrast Plum Creek estimates that just the building cost of the houses that would come as a result of their proposal would be around $280,000. When the cost of the house lots is added, the value of the properties would get close to the $500,000 range.
These intervener sessions will be continuing next Monday. We’ll do our best to keep you up to date.
-Diano Circo, North Woods Policy Advocate and Outreach Coordinator