State regulators hope to make a decision by summer’s end on Plum Creek Timber Co.’s historic and immensely controversial housing and resort proposal for the Moosehead Lake region.
On Wednesday, members of the Land Use Regulation Commission endorsed an ambitious timeline under which they would begin deliberating on Plum Creek’s development plan in late May and then hand down a final decision by August or September.
LURC director Catherine Carroll called the tentative schedule “aggressive, ambitious and compressed” but attainable with the cooperation of Plum Creek and intervening parties.
While that schedule is highly tentative, one important deadline for public participation in the process is fast approaching.
Members of the public have until 5 p.m. on March 14 to submit written comments to LURC on Plum Creek’s proposal to rezone roughly 20,000 acres near Maine’s largest lake to allow 975 house lots and two large resorts.
Plum Creek’s plan – the largest development proposal in Maine history – would also permanently protect more than 400,000 acres of forestland in the Moosehead region through a combination of easements and sales to conservation groups.
Under the tentative timeline, LURC staff will put together a draft “issues list” by May 7 that will serve as the backbone for board deliberations.
Commission members agreed to set aside May 27 and 28 as deliberative days. At the conclusion of the deliberations, the commission would direct LURC staff to prepare a draft recommendation.
That report would be published no sooner than July or August and would be subject to a 30-day public comment period. A final vote could come in August or September.
‘No’ to Redington, ‘yes’ to Kibby
In other matters, LURC voted on two major, Western Maine wind farm applications, one of which would be located on Plum Creek land.
As expected, the commission formally voted to accept TransCanada Maine Wind Development’s application for a 44-turbine wind farm on Plum Creek land in Kibby and Skinner townships in Franklin County. If constructed today, the wind farm would be New England’s largest.
But the commission voted to reject an application from Maine Mountain Power to build an 18-turbine wind farm on Black Nubble Mountain in Redington and Wyman townships, also located in Franklin County. The project had encountered stiff opposition from groups concerned about the turbines’ impacts on sensitive environmental areas and on views from the Appalachian Trail.
Written comments on Plum Creek’s plan should be sent to the Land Use Regulation Commission, 22 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0022 or can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kevin Miller
Bangor Daily News
6 March 2008
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