by the Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Maine –New sparring has broken out between critics of the Plum Creek development proposal for the Moosehead Lake region and the developer.
Representatives of Maine Audubon and the Natural Resources Council of Maine say the Plum Creek plan for 975 house lots and two resorts is too big and that the developer has ignored expressed concerns.
A Plum Creek spokesman, citing the ongoing regulatory review process, responded by saying now is not the time to suggest major changes.
The largest development plan ever put forward in Maine is before the Land Use Regulation Commission, which could make a decision by late summer or early fall.
The public comment period on the application closed last week and critics held a news conference Tuesday to blast the project.
Brownie Carson, NRCM’s executive director, said Seattle-based Plum Creek is not listening to Maine residents and that its unresponsiveness may doom the development plan.
“These issues and problems … came up over and over throughout the LURC hearings, but you would never know it reading Plum Creek’s most recent filing,” he said.
Luke Muzzy, senior land asset manager at Plum Creek, said the company has made clear it is open to proposed improvements in the proposal but that “at this point in the process, it really isn’t time to introduce major changes.”>/p>
Plum Creek is proposing to rezone approximately 20,000 acres in the Moosehead region and has also pledged to permanently protect more than 400,000 acres in the region through easements and land sales to conservation groups if the development plan is approved.
Jody Jones, a wildlife ecologist with Maine Audubon, said Tuesday that traffic generated by the development would fragment wildlife corridors near Lily Bay and Long Pond.
“The only way to reduce those impacts is to reduce the size of the project,” Jones said.
Muzzy said Plum Creek has made substantial changes to the plan in response to public feedback, including relocating hundreds of lots away from the shoreline and proposing a conservation package totaling more than 400,000 acres.
“The time has passed for major rethinking,” Muzzy said. “The time has come to accept or reject the plan … that has gone through three years of public scrutiny.”>/p>