Plum Creek Offers Up No Changes In Post-Hearing Brief

The ball is in LURC’s (Land Use Reg Commission) court…can’t wait to see
what they do w/ this now.

ASW

—————————- Original Message —————————-
Subject: Plum Creek Offers Up No Changes In Post-Hearing Brief
From:    “Jym St. Pierre” <jym@restore.org>
Date:    Tue, March 18, 2008 12:44 pm
To:      undisclosed-recipients: Undisclosed recipients;
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For Release Tuesday, March 18, 2008 – 10:30 a.m.
Contacts:
Judy Berk, NRCM (207) 622-3101 X 203 (o)
Elyse Tipton, Maine Audubon (207) 781-2330, ext. 229 or (207) 632-8389

Despite Overwhelming Public Criticism of Moosehead Plan
Plum Creek Offers Up No Changes In Post-Hearing Brief

AUGUSTA, March 18, 2008 —Maine’s two leading environmental
organizations said today that Plum Creek, the nation’s largest
commercial landowner, has submitted a post-hearing brief that
dismissed long lists of concerns raised during hundreds of hours of
public testimony by Maine residents and technical experts about Plum
Creek’s plan to develop the Moosehead Lake region.

The executive directors of Maine Audubon and the Natural Resources
Council of Maine (NRCM) provided their analysis of the hearing record
and public comments on Plum Creek’s proposal at a news conference in
Augusta.

In January, at the conclusion of four day-long public comment sessions
and four weeks of a formal intervenor hearing, Maine’s Land Use
Regulation Commission (LURC) asked Plum Creek and all intervenors to
identify “deficiencies” in the company’s Moosehead development
proposal and to suggest “how these deficiencies are resolvable.”

But despite extensive testimony and widespread concerns expressed
repeatedly by Maine citizens, scientists, organizations, and state
agencies, Seattle-based Plum Creek has filed a 156-page post-hearing
brief that does not acknowledge even one deficiency or suggest even
one change in its plan.

“We have just witnessed one of the most extensive proceedings ever in
Maine, on the largest development proposal in Maine history, with
major issues, concerns and evidence put forth by thousands of
citizens, experts and organizations, yet Plum Creek, astonishingly,
has responded that it sees no need to improve its plan,” said Brownie
Carson, NRCM executive director.

“The company’s 156-page post-hearing document dismisses the need to
change anything in its entire massive proposal.  Nothing.  Not a
single house lot.  Not a single acre of proposed rezoning.  Plum Creek
seems to think its plan is perfect.”

Maine Audubon and NRCM cited more than 50 specific concerns with Plum
Creek’s proposal that were raised repeatedly during weeks of hearings
and in public comments.

“It became clear during the four weeks of formal intervenor hearings
that the multiple deficiencies in Plum Creek’s plan mean it does not
meet LURC criteria,” said Kevin Carley, Maine Audubon executive
director.

“When experts on conservation and tourism economies, including
scientists from state and national natural resource agencies and
organizations, submitted testimony and were extensively cross-examined
about their concerns, they documented the many ways that Plum Creek’s
plan could permanently harm the wildlife, natural character, and
scenic beauty of the Moosehead Lake region. We did not expect Plum
Creek to dismiss their conclusions, nor the concerns of Maine people.”

The two organizations also revealed today that more than 2,000 written
comments have been submitted to LURC expressing concerns with Plum
Creek’s plan, compared with fewer than 100 comments in support of the
plan. The organizations believe this is the largest number of citizens
who have testified or written personal letters in opposition to a
project before LURC in Maine history.

“Apparently, Plum Creek decided to ignore testimony and evidence
presented at all of the public hearings as well as more than 2,000
real, heartfelt, well-researched personal letters, written at kitchen
tables across the state and beyond,” said Carson.

“It seems Plum Creek didn’t hear the hundreds of citizens and experts
who raised concerns about the extent, types and locations proposed for
developments.,” he said. “Plum Creek didn’t hear about the damage
their proposal would inflict on wildlife, or how it would harm water
quality, remote recreation, peace and quiet, locally owned businesses,
or the area’s outstanding scenery.”

“Given the deep and varied concerns that have been raised by so many
people, organizations and agencies, it’s an arrogant move by Plum
Creek to not acknowledge one deficiency of their plan,” said former
LURC Commissioner Caroline Pryor.  “LURC now has the difficult task of
analyzing and weighing all the information in the public record, and
deciding whether this development plan, as proposed, meets its
criteria.”

“The concerns raised by Maine residents including myself were raised
after much thought, research and due diligence,” said Ruth McLaughlin
of Greenville.  “And, my concerns amounted to much more than an
‘emotional’ appeal for nature!  There are still far too many
unanswered questions that, if not addressed now, will greatly affect
Maine’s citizens.  Therefore, I am deeply disturbed that all of my
questions and those of thousands across the state have been dismissed
by Plum Creek.  I truly hope LURC doesn’t do the same.”

“We have many serious concerns about Plum Creek’s development proposal
including the fact that it promotes too much development in the wrong
areas and it lacks meaningful conservation,” said Bob Guethlen of
Tomhegan Township.  “Unless Plum Creek were to seriously modify the
plan to deal with these issues, the plan should be rejected.”

“Our hope is that LURC will require the company to make substantial
changes to the amount and location of developments, and the amount,
location and quality of conservation, and not just tinker around the
edges,” said Diane Guethlen of Tomhegan Township.  “Moosehead is a
special place that should be protected; if it is not, it would set a
horrible precedent for the rest of LURC’s 10 million plus acres.”

“People hire a river guide because we promise an adventure where they
won’t see a road, a dock, a golf course, a jet ski, or a trophy
home,”said Maine River Guide, Lisa deHart.  “None of our future guests
are going to pay money to paddle around a corner and see a trophy home
in the viewscape.  I agree that the Moosehead Lake region has the
potential to create jobs…mine is one of them.  One of many of the
guide jobs that are created and maintained in that area.  I can make a
better living and would much prefer to work as a river guide than as a
waitress at a golf course or a Plum Creek resort.”

Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission in late January completed 15
days of technical hearings and four days of public hearings.  Plum
Creek and intervenors to the proceeding filed post-hearing briefs on
March 7th, and the public comment period closed on March 14th.   Plum
Creek’s plan calls for 2,300 housing units, two resorts, commercial
centers, and other proposed developments in the Moosehead Lakeregion.

For more information, see www.nrcm.org and www.maineaudubon.org

List of Problems with Plum Creek’s Plan:
http://www.nrcm.org/pc_posthearings_analysis.asp

LURC’s outline for the post-hearing briefs:
http://www.nrcm.org/documents/11th_procedural_order.pdf

Map of Plum Creek’s proposed developments:
http://www.nrcm.org/documents/pc_map_oct07.pdf

Expert testimony in full: ftp://ftp.state.me.us/outgoing/PlumCreek/

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