Court Rejects Plum Creek Approval


The Maine Superior Court has overruled the state’s September 2009 approval of Plum Creek Timber Co.’s massive development in the Moosehead Lake region.

Chief Justice Thomas Humphrey yesterday ruled in favor of conservation groups Forest Ecology Network, Natural Resources Council of Maine and RESTORE: The North Woods, saying that the Land Use Regulation Commission broke its own rules in approving the development, according to a press release from RESTORE. The court found that LURC violated rules by failing to vote on the petition as it was presented, instead offering amendments, and by failing to hold another public hearing on Plum Creek’s final petition. “Because LURC disregarded its Chapter 5 rules and engaged in an unauthorized, ad hoc procedure that prejudiced Petitioners’ rights, the court must vacate the Decision of the Commission and remand for a public hearing on Plum Creek’s fourth and final amended petition,” Humphrey wrote in the ruling.



Naples Fines Builder $600K for Cutting Trees

The Press Herald reports on a developer who apparently disregarded shoreline zoning ordinances and cleared an entire lot of vegetation is now facing fines up to $660,000.

The town has cited Chase Holdings LLC for three violations of the shoreland zoning ordinance and is researching whether a fourth violation occurred. The company is associated with John Chase, a builder in southern Maine who owns Chase Custom Homes.

An area of more than 100 feet by 100 feet on Big Bear Point was cleared of all vegetation, opening a view of Long Lake and adding significant value to the property, according to the DEP, which had a staff member investigate in March, along with Naples’ code enforcement officer.

Chase Holdings was cited for three violations within the 100-foot shoreline buffer zone: creating an opening in the forest canopy greater than 250 square feet, failing to retain a well-distributed stand of trees and other vegetation, and removing shorter vegetation and ground cover.

The other possible violation would be for removing more than 40 percent of the trees in the buffer zone within a 10-year period.

Town attorney Geoffrey Hole said he will negotiate with Chase Holdings on a consent agreement that could address civil penalties and the environmental remedy. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, he said, the town will sue in Superior Court.

Plum Creek’s Payments to Supporters Questioned

The Plum Creek Timber Company paid the expenses for groups that supported its efforts to get approval for a large scale development project in the Moosehead Lake region.  While these groups may have wanted much of what Plum Creek was proposing, the amount of money paid to these groups suggests they may have been acting more as agents of Plum Creek rather than as independent organizations.   The question is if the groups, through their testimony and submissions, stated what their members wanted or what Plum Creek told them to say.

The payments to groups such as the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, the Maine Snowmobile Association and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce should have been disclosed to the land use commission, said Cathy Johnson, north woods project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, one of a few groups that have filed court appeals to block the project.”It’s the applicant paying to get testimony that’s purporting to be independent but in fact isn’t,” she said ….

Plum Creek agreed to pay the attorney fees for a group that included the snowmobile association and organizations representing ATV riders, outdoor guides and bow hunters. The fees ended up exceeding $100,000, Meyers said, although he didn’t know the exact amount.

via Portland Press Herald.

Opposition to Lincoln Lakes Wind Power

A group opposed to the building of a wind power project on Rollins Mountain in Lincoln have filed an appeal with the Lincoln Appeals Board.  They are arguing that the wind turbines should be considered “power generating facilities,” as opposed to “major public utilities.”   Because the area is zoned residential, if the wind turbines are considered generating facilities they should be be permitted.

The Lincoln Planning Board used “ludicrous” arguments in shoehorning a proposed $130 million wind farm into its regulations, a Bar Harbor lawyer opposing the board’s approval of the proposal contended Tuesday.

Representing a group opposing the project, the Friends of Lincoln Lakes, attorney Lynne A. Williams filed an appeal with the Lincoln Appeals Board on Monday charging that First Wind’s turbines do not belong in residential zones of Rollins Mountain, where the project is slated to go if it is approved by Maine Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies.

In her two-page appeal, Williams said the board’s 6-1 approval Dec. 1 violated its own, and most other, municipal land-use ordinances for residential zones.

Bangor Daily News

Lawsuit Filed to Limit Cleanup

UPDATE: The request was denied.

Mainebiz reports on company’s attempts to prevent the DEP from requiring extensive remediation of a waste site.

Mallinckrodt LLC today said it has filed an action in federal court to prevent the Maine Department of Environmental Protection from enforcing an order that requires Mallinckrodt to implement what it calls “extreme and unnecessary remediation measures” at the former HoltraChem manufacturing facility in Orrington.The commissioner of the DEP signed an order in late November that requires St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt, which owned and operated the former HoltraChem chlorine and chemical manufacturing facility from 1967 to 1982, to undertake an extensive cleanup that includes the excavation of five landfills that contain mercury-contaminated soil above the state’s clean-up standards, according to a press release from the company. Mallinckrodt has been working with a consultant on the cleanup of the site and said the excavation of the landfills was already rejected as an option because it would expose the public to potentially harmful amounts of mercury, would be extremely costly with no environmental benefit and would require 60,000 truck trips carrying approximately 360,000 tons of soil to a licensed facility in Canada.

Mallinckrodt claims it has spent more than $35 million on remediation efforts at the site over the past 15 years.