By Joan Marie Wisher
While driving down Frenchtown Road on the south side of First Roach Pond, I happened to glance at the license plate of the car passing by me. It was a Maine registration, “PEACEFL.” I didn’t know the person driving, but I thought: “They’ve got the right idea.”>/p>
It took me back to a time when my 6-year-old nephew came to camp for a few days. As we were taking a walk through the woods, he exclaimed, “This is peaceful.” I was amazed that at such a tender age, he could identify the concept. And truly, it is the peace of this area that sets it apart and makes it special.
But recently, in a conversation with a neighbor, I mentioned the “PEACEFL” license place and without hesitation, she responded, “Oh, you mean the way it used to be!”>/p>
First Roach Pond was the first place in the Moosehead region to experience a Plum Creek “concept plan” development. Seven more lakes and ponds in the area would be subject to one of these development plans under Plum Creek’s new proposal. If this proposal were approved, it would amount to the largest development ever in Maine and spread 58 new subdivisions around the Moosehead Lake region. Today, as the building frenzy here on First Roach Pond winds down to a slower pace, and is proposed to pick up elsewhere, it is this “peace” that may be permanently endangered.
Recently, on a boat ride down the pond, I had the occasion to view the newly built homes. I noticed that one home jutted far above the tree canopy inserting itself into an otherwise unmarred landscape. Many others were large but built in a less obtrusive way.
The standards set by the Land Use Regulation Commission have been essential to help protect the character and tradition of the pond. However, there have been changes beyond the new homes and increased traffic and dust have left the residents struggling with unexpected challenges.
Personal jet ski watercraft have become an increasing presence on the pond. Operators pay no particular attention to the disruption they cause as they circle each other and zoom up and down the pond.
ATVs, though assigned to special trails, are constantly breaking the speed and road restrictions adding to a need for local enforcement.
Fireworks have become commonplace extending even beyond the summer season and breaking many tranquil evenings with a Fourth of July atmosphere.
Alarmed by this increasing “partying” and all the noise, nuisance and pollution that accompany it, I find myself questioning:
With about half the lots presently built upon, will these negative changes escalate as more houses are built?
Does the foam that lines the beach indicate that the water quality of our pond has been compromised.
Does the marked decrease in fishing boats indicate that Roach Pond is now a less desirable fishing spot.
How long will the bald eagles and loons remain under these conditions?
Will the cow moose continue to nurture her calves in the nearby cove?
Will the owls that nested for years behind my camp ever return to raise their young?
What I do know is that these changes are here, leaving Roach Pond residents challenged to maintain and preserve the character of the pond, and that which is the purest essence of the woodland “peace.” And, I am concerned that the peace, quiet, and natural areas at even other lakes and ponds around Moosehead Lake are now threatened by the 975 houses that Plum Creek has proposed.
If only about 45 lots have had this effect on First Roach, imagine the impact of 975 lots — more than 20 times as many — spread throughout the Moosehead region. I hope future generations in the Moosehead Lake region will never have to say, “Peaceful? Oh, you mean the way it used to be.”>/p>