In what may be the final weeks for public input into the Plum Creek proposal for the Moosehead region, both sides are kicking the transmissions into high gear. The issues on the table now concern the conservation segments of the 30 year plan. With public sessions to begin on Tuesday, 15 January, I’m expecting the chambers to be packed.
Going by their track record from Florida to Washington to Maine, I hope that other developments will be looked at by the LURC. In my research into the history of Plum Creeks and other developers concerning the many projects around the Nation, I find very little that satisfies me that this is indeed a viable project for Maine. Hiding behind the structured tiers of Plum Creek Land Company and Plum Creek Maine LLC, (both protected from liability in the way they are structured,) Plum Creek has a record of being associated with environmental and civil disasters across the country.
In Florida, they are currently trying to establish a 2,000 acre development that encroaches on the habitat of the threatened species, the Gopher Tortoise. (30 December, 2007 blog entry) While they may preach a good sermon of conservation and protection, that development will certainly kill off at least a portion of the population. Roadways and drainage’s will alter the tortoises habitat, stressing some and allowing others to be destroyed, however unintentionally by developers. By donating land for conservation, they hope to garner favor by appearing to be benevolent. In fact, the land they are donating or setting aside for conservation is not suitable, or is not permitted to be developed anyways. So the Taxpayers of Florida end up paying Plum Creek for land it cannot use anyways.
In Oregon, Plum Creek flooded the Oregon planning offices in 2006 with 100s of waivers and other paperwork to avoid having to comply with a law called ‘Measure 37’ which allowed landowners to proceed with developments and construction without having to undergo standard permitting requirements.
More plans for developments were begun in January of 2006 in Georgia. In 2005 Plum Creek bought land in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from Escanaba Lumber. Today they are in the process of securing a developmental project similar to the one here in Maine. In Washington they developed a resort area called Suncadia, now encompassing over 6,300 acres. It didn’t start out that way. Homes in that development range from 3/4 million to 4 million dollars. How many people in Greenville can afford that kind of housing?
In the Missoula area of Montana, Plum Creek is also developing timberland into resort areas. In Wyoming, a development was carved out of land Plum Creek sold to Tim Blixseth, called the Yellowstone Club. That project alone brought hundreds of environmental law violations resulting in permit suspensions and fines.
We can expect more of the same here in Maine if we allow this proposal to move forward. Increasing seasonal populations will overburden the infrastructure. Routes 15/6 cannot even begin to handle the construction traffic. Maine taxpayers will be stuck with the bill to improve the highways at a cost of who knows how any millions of dollars. The property taxes will never come close to covering the costs. Increased fire and police services, as well as emergency crews will be required to meet the needs of this seasonal population.
Are we really ready as a state, or even willing, to pay for the privilege to welcome rich people from away for a few weeks every summer? This will be a whole new breed of people, folks. These will not be the stodgy old money folks we are used to along the coast. These people drive gas guzzling hummers and tear up the woods with their overpriced ATVs and more. Like I said in an earlier post, the more I learn about this deal, the less I like the sound of it.
Over the next couple of weeks I intend to write heavily on this subject, and share some of my findings with you. Keep checking back for more facts about the history of Plum Creeks developments, and links to where you can learn more. Do yourself a favor and get involved. Learn the facts and present your comments to the LURC. Let’s keep people from away, away!