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Public will weigh in on Big Moose ski resort development

 The lower ski lift sits empty on a weekday at the ski resort on Big Moose Mountain in Big Moose Township on Jan. 24, 2022.
Valerie Royzman
Bangor Daily News
The lower ski lift sits empty on a weekday at the ski resort on Big Moose Mountain in Big Moose Township on Jan. 24, 2022.

The Maine Land Use Planning Commission will give members of the public a chance to weigh in on a $113.5 million redevelopment plan for the ski area at Big Moose Mountain in Greenville.

The commission approved a request for a public hearing at a meeting Wednesday.

The hearing request came from the Moosehead Region Futures Committee, a citizens group that describes itself as a watchdog over development projects in the area, and another a resident.

Commissioner Bill Gilmore says he wants to see the project succeed after years of troubled operations at the mountain.

"There ought to be some public discussion about rights and wrongs and how things come to be and they get taken care of as we move through the process," he said at Wednesday's meeting. "From my standpoint as an individual commissioner, we've had public hearings for much, much smaller projects than this."

Building plans from Big Lake Development call for a new hotel, ski and surface lifts, brew pub and other infrastructure upgrades on the mountain. An additional 400 residential units could be part of the project's second phase.

Big Lake Development and the company that prepared the permit applications said they're worried the public hearing will delay their ability to secure the land and begin construction.

"It's a critical junction at this project," said Matthew Dieterich, the executive vice president for the James W. Sewall Company. "We've extended our purchase of sale with the land owner a number of times. I don't know how much longer we can do that. Really getting the property under control and getting to financial closing is key in continuing to move this project forward."

Dieterich estimated the public hearing would likely delay the project by at least two months.

The Moosehead Region Futures Committee said it's concerned about the project's potential economic and environmental impacts on the area, as well as the developer's ability to finance the construction.

In its hearing request, the committee questioned whether the project could be financially successful if developers anticipated using property tax revenues from the residential units planned for phase two to pay the debt service on bonds used to pay for phase one.