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Ski resort revitalization near Moosehead Lake wins approval from key regulator

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Linda Coan O'Kresik
/
Bangor Daily News
In this February 2019 file photo, young skiers hit the slopes on a beautiful day at Big Moose Mountain in Greenville.

After more than a year of debate, state regulators have approved plans to rebuild and revitalize the ski area on Big Moose Mountain near Greenville.

The applications from Big Lake Development call for a new chairlift, ski lodge and hotel, as well as ziplines, a tap room and event center. The developers have said they want to transform the mountain into a year-round resort.

Members of the Land Use Planning Commission acknowledged the proposal had generated some division in the community. Some residents are skeptical of another builder coming in to develop the mountain after the current owner neglected the property. But others believe it will provide a much-needed economic boost for the Moosehead Lake region.

Commissioners ultimately agreed to give the developers the permits they need to begin constructing the project’s first phase, but they urged staff to keep a close watch on the project.

"The last thing you want, and we’ve seen it throughout the state of Maine, where large projects start, they get halfway through, they’re not well-planned and they go bankrupt," said Commissioner Leo Trudel.

Big Lake Development must submit more documents to the commission demonstrating that it has all funding before it can start the work. Construction must begin within the next two years, and developers must finish the project in five.

The commission also agreed Wednesday to move forward with a plan to rezone 1,036 acres in the Moosehead region for development. It represents just 6.1% of the roughly 17,000 acres initially set for development under the now-abandoned Plum Creek concept plan.

The future of the Moosehead region has been the subject of debate for years, starting back in 2005, when the Plum Creek Timber Company announced plans to build nearly 1,000 new house lots and two new resorts. Those plans also divided the community, and they were subject to years of litigation and revision.

Weyerhaueser Company owns the land now and eventually pulled out the development plans, citing the lingering effects of the 2008 recession. When it formally terminated the Moosehead region plan two years ago, that allowed the LUPC to gather more community input and restart its own planning efforts.

LUPC staff have spent the past few months collecting feedback from the Moosehead region community, ultimately revising a zoning plan that they first unveiled to commissioners back in May.

Members of the public will now have 30 days to submit additional feedback about the new Moosehead zoning plan.