Plum Creek, a real estate investment trust, has proposed to develop 975 house lots, two luxury resorts, a marina, three RV parks, and more in the beautiful Moosehead Lake Region in the heart of Maine’s undeveloped North Woods. If you listen to Plum Creek’s description of their project emphasizing all of the conservation they say they will do, you might well come away thinking “this sounds pretty good.”
Beware the fine print. As Paul Harvey says, “Here’s the rest of the story.”
In addition to the 975 house lots, Seattle-based Plum Creek proposes two resorts. These resorts could include an unlimited number of additional housing units, both overnight and permanent, such as condos, houses, apartments, cabins, lodges, suites, rooms, etc.
In the Suncadia resort, on former Plum Creek land in Roslyn Wash., 3,785 new housing units, including condominiums and individual houses are planned. In a resort created on former Plum Creek land in Montana, The Yellowstone Club, individual house lots, not the houses themselves – just the lots, run from $1.1 million to $3.2 million and only those with $3 million or more in the bank are welcome.
In addition to houses, hotels, motels and condos, the Maine resorts may include a golf course, spa and fitness center, restaurants, gift shops, clothing stores, outdoor gear stores, beauty salons, horse stables, and tennis courts.
On the east shore of Moosehead Lake, right across the bay from Lily Bay State Park, Plum Creek proposes to build a marina. The marina would serve the residents of the resort and the proposed 190 houses to be built behind the 500 foot protected strip on Lily Bay. Motor boats and jet skis would be zooming by Lily Bay State Park, one of Maine’s most beautiful, quiet and peaceful state parks.
The 975 house lots include more than 30 separate subdivisions scattered across the landscape. Two contain over 180 lots. None of these house lots are within organized towns so they would not contribute a bit to the local tax base.
And what details does Plum Creek fail to tell us about their proposed “conservation?” First of all, they fail to tell us that conservation is required by law when development this big is proposed. It is not a gift or being offered through the goodness of Plum Creek’s corporate heart.
More importantly, the vast majority of the conservation they propose is not permanent. One of the proposed “conservation” measures is to zone 382,000 acres for “no development” for 30 years. The Maine Attorney General’s Office has examined this proposal and found that the protection offered is no greater than what currently exists under the zoning rules already in place. In any event, it expires in 30 years, at which point, the whole area is subject to development.
And within this so-called “no development” zone, Plum Creek is proposing to allow four new sporting camps, each twice the size allowed under LURC regulations, and 116 rental cabins, four per township. So, in fact, development would be spread all across the landscape, even within the “no development” zone.
Plum Creek also proposes a 500-foot no-development easement on 55 remote ponds. However, 22 of those ponds are surrounded by wetlands that couldn’t be developed anyway and eight of the ponds are already legally off-limits to development. In addition, seven of the ponds are partly in and partly out of the plan area, but still on land owned by Plum Creek, so Plum Creek could still develop those parts of the shoreline not included in this proposal. And nothing would stop development on Plum Creek land right behind the 500-foot no-development easement strip when the 30 years is up.
Other measures in the plan touted by Plum Creek are the proposed hiking and snowmobile trail easements. Permanent trail corridors for snowmobilers, hikers, skiers, bicyclists and others are unquestionably a benefit to the region. However, Plum Creek would retain the power to require that these trails be relocated at any time at taxpayer expense. In addition, Plum Creek would retain the right to clearcut, spray pesticides and build roads right up to and over the trails.
When looking at the Plum Creek proposal, be sure to read the fine print.
The spectacular beauty and character of the Moosehead region is at stake.