Plum Creek Watch

CURRENT STATUS

The appeal of the approval by the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) of Plum Creek corporation’s rezoning request is now before the Maine Supreme Court. Briefs were submitted in August and September 2011.  Oral arguments before the Court are scheduled for January 2012.

  • In September 2009, LURC approved rezoning required for Plum Creek’s massive development plans.
  • RESTORE: The North Woods, the Forest Ecology Network and the Natural Resources Council of Maine appealed the decision to Superior Court.
  • in April 2011, Maine’s Superior Court overturned LURC’s decision to rezone nearly 17,000 acres for new development zones.
  • LURC and Plum Creek appealed the Superior Court decision to the Maine Supreme Court.

BACKGROUND

In December 2004, Plum Creek, the largest corporate landowner in the United States, announced plans for the biggest residential development in the Maine Woods in the state’s history. RESTORE: The North Woods was one of the first voices to speak out against Plum Creek’s misguided plan for the Moosehead Lake region.

In 2005, RESTORE and the Forest Ecology Network (FEN) formed the Save Moosehead campaign, which has been a leader in organizing opposition to Plum Creek’s plan. Along with other groups, we successfully generated so much public opposition that Plum Creek was forced to twice withdraw and revise its plan.

In April 2007, Plum Creek submitted a third scheme, which included larger development zones and even more housing units (2,300+) than the previous versions. RESTORE’s position has consistently been that the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) is legally required to reject Plum Creek’s proposal because it represents massive misplaced development with inadequate conservation offsets, which fail to meet the statutory and regulatory tests.

In September 2009, despite widespread citizen opposition, LURC approved a version of the Plum Creek plan that LURC itself had created, which included nearly 17,000 acres of new development zones. On October 21, 2009, in conjunction with FEN, RESTORE filed the first appeal of the LURC approval in Maine Superior Court. Our news conference announcing the legal appeal got widespread media coverage. The next day, the Natural Resources Council of Maine filed a similar appeal. Plum Creek, The Nature Conservancy, Forest Society of Maine, Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, and Town of Greenville filed with the court in opposition to our appeal.

On April 7, 2011, Maine’s Superior Court ruled in our favor, vacating the rezoning and remanding the issue to LURC to hold a hearing on the LURC-generated version of Plum Creek’s rezoning plan. However, LURC and Plum Creek have appealed that decision to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. We have filed a motion to dismiss their appeal. The court is expected to hear arguments on both the motion to dismiss and the other issues raised in our original appeal during the summer of 2011.

Meanwhile, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), The Nature Conservancy, and the Forest Society of Maine are implementing a separate but related deal they negotiated with Plum Creek called the “Conservation Framework.” In October 2009, AMC purchased from Plum Creek the 29,500-acre Roach Pond tract and The Nature Conservancy closed on the purchase of the 15,000-acre Moose River tract. AMC has donated an easement on their property to the Maine Department of Conservation. A so-called 363,000-acre Moosehead Region Conservation Easement, held by the Forest Society of Maine, went into effect on October 8, 2009. That “working forest” easement remains in effect throughout the judicial appeal process.

There is more information about the Plum Creek plan for the Moosehead Lake region within the proposed Maine Woods National Park area on the RESTORE website.