A timber company wants to pull the plug on a massive development plan for Moosehead Lake that was years in the making and approved a decade ago, but that never got off the ground.
Weyerhaeuser has informed the state’s Land Use Planning Commission that it wants to end the controversial development and subdivision zoning rights that were granted to the Plum Creek Timber Company, which later merged with Weyerhaeuser.
In a letter to the Commission this week explaining the request, Weyerhaeuser Land Manager Luke Muzzy said that the impact of the 2008-2009 recession changed the development landscape in the United States, and "As a result and, despite our best efforts,” Muzzy said, “The development components under the Concept Plan have not been implemented."
The proposal dragged on for years and underwent a series of contentious public hearings before it was approved. Under the terms, the company was authorized to develop 975 house lots and two resorts in exchange for a conservation easement on 363,000 acres.
"The easement is permanent and would not be affected by any petition to terminate the lake concept plan," says Karin Tilberg, the executive director of the Forest Society of Maine, which holds the easement. Tilberg says she has been fielding calls from people wondering what the effect of Weyerhaeuser's request for rezoning would mean. The easement prohibits future development, but allows for timber harvesting and recreation.
"We plan to hold and continue to monitor that easement," she says.
A spokesperson for the company says termination of the development plan would allow the Land Use Planning Commission and the community to revisit the area's economic needs. But the primary objective of Weyerhaeuser, Chris Fife says, is to manage timber.
The Commission is expected to take up the petition at a meeting October 9.