Plum Creek’s Plans for Maine’s Moosehead Lake Region
The Facts and the Fine Print
Seattle-based Plum Creek Real Estate Investment Corporation—the nation’s largest private landowner—proposed a massive development for the heart of the Moosehead Lake region. It is the largest subdivision ever proposed in Maine. An initial proposal submitted in April 2005 to the Land Use Regulation Commission was withdrawn after significant public outcry. A revised proposal was submitted in April 2006 and withdrawn again after significant public outcry. Another proposal was submitted in April 2007 and amended in August and October 2007.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine opposed this proposal.
Plum Creek purchased their Maine land in 1998 for less than $200 per acre, because it is zoned for forestry, wildlife habitat protection, and remote recreation—not development. The proposal would rezone 408,000 acres of Maine’s North Woods and change the rules to allow development.
The Facts – Plum Creek Proposes to:
Convert 20,000 acres now zoned for forestry into subdivisions and commercial development.
Develop 2,315 house lots and other accommodations (details below). To put this in perspective, Greenville now has 1,200 existing structures; Rockwood has about 380. Plum Creek’s proposal would create the equivalent of two new towns north of Greenville.
Subdivide nearly 1,000 house lots:
- 975 house lots (not changed since the first and second proposals) scattered throughout the Moosehead Lake region, including 236 shorefront lots.
- In these same proposed residential areas, an unlimited number of developments, such as “club houses,” undefined water access facilities, and asphalt batch plants, are allowed.
Create two large resorts:
- At Moose Mountain: A 4,446-acre resort with 800 “accommodation units.”
- At Lily Bay: A 777-acre exclusive resort with 250 “accommodation units.”
- The resorts’ accommodation units are in addition to the 975 house lots and could include more house lots, condominiums, cabins, gated communities, hotel and motel rooms.
- Both resorts can include buildings that are up to six stories high.
- Both resorts can include widespread commercial development, such as gas stations, stores, golf courses, beauty shops, restaurants, cellphone towers, and “club houses” up to 5,000 square-feet.
Establish five new commercial development zones
- Five commercial development zones (outside of the resorts), on 432 acres of land now zoned for forestry, would allow more gas stations, restaurants, retail stores, professional offices, 5,000 square-foot “club houses,” and more – essentially creating five new commercial districts extending into undeveloped areas north of Greenville.
The Fine Print
- Six commercial food and lodging facilities are allowed anywhere in the so-called “conservation areas.”
- An unlimited number of subdivisions to house employees, and on-site caretakers or managers housing serving residential subdivisions.
- Dozens of acres of critical Deer Wintering Areas mapped by the state are targeted for development.
- Of the 975 lots, none are proposed on the 8,000 acres Plum Creek owns in the town of Greenville.
Plum Creek is required by law to “balance” development with donated conservationthat is publicly beneficial. The vast majority of conservation proposed by Plum Creek is part of a separate private $35 million deal that would be paid for (likely with public money).
- Trail easements for snowmobiles (only 20 feet wide) and hiking (only 15 feet wide) in the proposal can be moved at any time (or multiple times) at Plum Creek’s request. The trail easements allow road building, clear-cutting, and pesticide spraying on and over the trails.
- The proposed donated easement still allows development, gravel pits, and septic tank waste spreading, and it does not guarantee sustainable forest management.
How Does Seattle-based Plum Creek Add Up in Maine?
- Plum Creek CEO Rick Holley’s annual salary: $5 million
- Average salary of Maine resident (three-year average 2001-03): $37,619
- Price Plum Creek paid for land in Moosehead proposal: $200 per acre
- Price Plum Creek will likely receive on sale of house lots: $200,000 per acre (shorefront)
- Assumed single-family residential unit house in proposed development: $280,000 to construct.
- Maine median value of owner-occupied housing units in 2000: $98,700
- Plum Creek’s net worth (Hoovers, 2005): $4.8 billion
- Amount of corporate income tax Plum Creek pays to the state of Maine: $0
- Amount of corporate income tax Plum Creek pays to the federal government: $0
- Amount Plum Creek was fined for violations of laws protecting Maine forests (largest in Maine history): $57,000
About Seattle-based Plum Creek
- Nation’s largest private landowner: owns 8.2 million acres in 18 states
- Acres owned in Maine: 928,000
- Number of people who live within a day’s drive of Moosehead, many of whom can afford expensive vacation houses: 70 million