Brownie Carson, the executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, had an interesting op-ed in the Bangor Daily News on Friday about the power and extent of the public's ability to influence land use decisions.
Because people spoke out, significant improvements were achieved. The number of shorefront lots was cut in half; development on remote ponds and some high-priority wildlife areas was dropped; special places like Prong Pond, the western shore of Brassua Lake and the northwest shore of Moosehead Lake were spared; many loopholes in Plum Creek’s proposed conservation easement were removed; and the amount of donated conservation was increased.
But what never changed were the overall scale of the project (975 house lots and 1,050 resort units) and Plum Creek’s demand for a resort at Lily Bay. Although letters to LURC in opposition to Lily Bay development outnumbered letters in support by 1,517 to 7, the commission acceded to Plum Creek’s threat, delivered in September as the final words of their lead attorney: "Without Lily Bay, there is no plan."