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April 8, 2011 | last updated December 1, 2011 12:26 pm

Court voids 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.

In September 2009, four years after Plum Creek first proposed the project, LURC approved the Seattle-based company's plan for more than 1,000 housing units, two resorts with more than 1,000 units and nearly 400,000 acres of conserved land. The environmental groups filed their appeal a month later.

Representatives from the Maine Attorney General's Office, which defended LURC, and Plum Creek declined to comment or say if they would appeal the decision to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, according to the Bangor Daily News.

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