Huge subdivision, luxury resorts, lack of significant conservation, would chop into heart of Maine’s North Woods
NRCM news release
Today, accompanied by local residents, the Natural Resources Council of Maine announced its opposition to Seattle-based Plum Creek Real Estate Investment Corporation’s plan to change the character of Maine’s North Woods forever by scattering subdivisions with 975 house lots, two resorts, a golf course, a marina, three RV parks and more than 100 rental cabins around beautiful Moosehead Lake. The 500,000 acres where Plum Creek proposes their developments are in the heart of the largest undeveloped area in the United States east of the Mississippi river.
“Plum Creek’s proposal would chop into the heart of Maine’s North Woods, dwarf area towns, and send roads, powerlines, commercial development, and 975 homes sprawling into previously remote areas. This proposal is so far off the mark that tweaking will not fix it,” said Brownie Carson, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
“Economic development is important for the state and the region, but Plum Creek’s plans are not the answer,” said Carson. “The plan is all about profit for the developers and would increase property taxes in Greenville, neglect permanent protection for the landscape and compete with locally owned businesses. After looking at the proposal, we encourage Plum Creek to go back to the drawing board and bring Maine a plan that will provide real, permanent protection for the forests, shorelines and trails that are the foundation of the region’s quality of life and nature-based recreation economy and encourage commercial development of locally owned businesses in Greenville, not resorts 20 miles away owned by out of state developers.”
There has been no opportunity for the public to weigh in with their vision for the Moosehead region to date but there will be many opportunities within the next year, as Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission considers the fate of the area. “The Plum Creek plan is not a done deal. The future of Maine’s North Woods depends on Maine people sharing their vision for the region and the responsiveness of decision makers,” said Carson. “We urge the participation of all who care about the kind of Maine we leave to our children.”
“I’m a real estate broker and could gain from development in these parts,” said Liz Munster of Rockwood. “But with Plum Creek’s big plan as it is currently written, we’d be saying good-bye to the North Woods we know and love. It’s just not worth it. They are asking for way too much, too soon without giving any thought to the demands to the area that will come from this plan.”
“Plum Creek Timber Company proposes a resort that could just as easily be located in New Jersey as in Maine, but they want to put it just a stone’s throw from Lily Bay State Park, a place where many campers had their first great North Woods experience,” said Jim Fisk, who owns the Rockwood Trading Post. “I’ve seen first hand what happened with all the development at Lake Winnipesauke and Cape Cod. We came up here to escape that and now it is right on our heels. We see it happening all over again. I think most people up here share our concerns. That’s why people are here – if they wanted to live in suburbia they’d be living in suburbia.”
“As our culture becomes more and more cluttered, journeys into the real, natural world become ever more in demand,” said Garrett Conover, co-owner of North Woods Ways, a Maine business that hosts trips to the most remote, unspoiled, undeveloped areas remaining in the Northeast. “Without undeveloped areas our business would be impossible. This proposal is much bigger than just Plum Creek — every other multi-national land-owning corporation is watching to see what happens too.”
Just a few of the problems with Plum Creek’s proposal:
1. The proposed 30-year “no development” zone is not permanent and it does not exclude all development. The law intends that a development such as Plum Creek’s proposal be offset with permanent conservation to strike a publicly beneficial balance. The ‘no development zoning’ that Plum Creek has proposed is not a donation, but rather their attempt to meet a legal requirement. The Attorney General’s Office has said that the proposed zoning does not provide any conservation beyond what exists under current zoning and does not ensure development will not happen throughout their lands in the future. In addition, in the so-called “no development” zone, Plum Creek has proposed the development of four new sporting camps (each twice the size of the largest sporting camp currently allowed in LURC jurisdiction) and not just a few cabins, but 116, rental cabins.
2. The proposed high-end resort just across from Lily Bay State Park could include a golf course, a marina, a spa and fitness center, restaurants, gift shops, a beauty salon, over night lodging, year round houses, condos and other commercial development. All this development would be in addition to the 975 houses and 116 rental cabins and four extra-large sporting camps already proposed. In the Suncadia resort on former Plum Creek land in Roslyn, Washington, 3,785 new housing units, including condominiums, lodges and individual houses and multiple golf courses are planned. At a resort created on former Plum Creek land in Montana, The Yellowstone Club, individual house lots run from $1.1 million to $3.2 million and only those with $3 million or more in the bank are welcome.
3. In Plum Creek’s current proposal, Plum Creek can require proposed snowmobile and other trails to be moved at any time (or multiple times) at taxpayer expense. The trails will have no buffers from incompatible activities such as road building, clearcutting or herbicide spraying.
4. More than half of the ponds Plum Creek is proposing to protect from development are not developable anyway – because of existing laws or because they are surrounded by wetlands.