All Maine Matters

August 2006



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All Maine Matters

Because All of Maine DOES Matter!
Vol. 1, No. 8      August 2006 FREE

Major Development Proposed in Maine’s North Woods
Matt Polstein’s project calls for resort outside Baxter State Park

A Millinocket town councilor and local businessman has expressed interest in building a resort in the backyard of Baxter State Park. Matt Polstein is proposing to rezone the area around Millinocket Lake allowing him the opportunity to build a lodge with 60 to 80 rooms, a restaurant, a cluster of 20 condominiums and a 20-room inn with spa and food service.

“The Hammond Ridge project will begin with expansion of the Twin Pines Camps, adding fifteen cabins,” according to information on Friends of Baxter’s website. “A subdivision on the side of Black Cap [sic] Mountain will provide land and building packages for private individuals.”

Polstein, who owns New England Outdoors Center and River Drivers Restaurant in Millinocket, refused to talk to All Maine Matters about his proposal.

The Hammond Ridge Development is located on part of 80,000 acres of Great Northern Paper land not included in an easement area because it already has some development on it, according to the announcement. Polstein said that he was going to apply for the necessary zone changes in January, 2006 and for permits after that. Polstein added that he hopes to be able to begin site work in the fall of 2006.

“Frankly, I haven’t heard from Matt in months now,” said Catherine Carol, a spokesperson at the state’s Land Use Regulation Commission. As of July 28, an application has not been filed with the LURC, according to Carol.

If an application is filed, the commission will review and distribute it to others including the state’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Department of Transportation, Maine Natural Areas, county commissioners, Maine State Soil Scientists, Maine Historic Preservation Commission and possibly the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Geological Survey and the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development. In addition, interested citizens including abutters, leaseholders and Millinocket councilors will be given the opportunity to review the proposal. “It’s not uncommon for when an application comes in that it needs to be tweaked or adjusted when a proposal is made so there is no undue adverse impact,” Carol said.

Polstein is proposing to re-zone the area. In order to achieve that, he must petition for a development subdistrict. There is criteria that must be met, according to Carol. That criteria is very broad and can be found in title 12, 685-A subsection 8-A. A seven-member board (appointed by the governor) of the Land Use Regulation Commission will ultimately decide whether or not to rezone the area, according to Carol.

Included in that criteria is that the project create no adverse impact on the environment and a demonstrated need in the community – which is open to interpretation, Carol said.
“We did provide Matt with a ‘guidance document’ to try to help him make that argument,” Carol said. “We don’t leave it open and say to the applicant to figure it out themselves.”

Polstein told Friends of Baxter that it is his “goal is to build and operate a signature resort for Maine and New England on and around Hammond Ridge. “We will build and operate this resort in a sustainable fashion and in a way that honors the spectacular natural beauty of Mount Katahdin, the West Branch Region, and Millinocket Lake,” he said.

If Polstein applies, LURC will hold a public hearing after he addresses areas of concern from all interested parties. The proposal will go through two phases. After rezoning approval Polstein must file an application for a development permit, which addresses technical criteria such as setback requirements, building heights, etc.

“We would then go through the same review process and request comment,” Carol said.

Carol suggested that the 1,000-acre project could “optimistically” take at least six months to review and receive approval.
“This is a highly contentious project,” Carol said. “This could go for some time.”

So far Polstein has shown a preliminary drawing and map to LURC officials, but hasn’t submitted an application.
Millinocket Lake is a rocky, 8,960-acre coldwater lake lies within sight of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain. Millinocket Lake is noted for landlocked salmon and lake trout fishing, but it is also one of Maine’s best producers of bragging-size white perch, according to information provided by

Mount Katahdin is located in Baxter State Park. Baxter State Park consists of 200,000 acres of mountains, lakes streams and forest, all given in trust by Gov. Percival Baxter, who once said that the park “shall forever be kept and remain in the natural wild state.”

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