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May 25, 2018

Opposition voiced at hearing on Irving’s Fish River rezoning proposal

At a public hearing hosted by the Maine Land Use Planning Commission, all but one of 15 Aroostook County residents who gave testimony opposed J.D. Irving Ltd.'s proposal to rezone for development 1,923 acres within the Fish River chain of lakes.

The County reported Irving's concept plan includes 1,496 acres proposed for 11 new residential lots containing up to 330 units, with the remaining 427 acres going toward four "community/economic development areas." Another 14,750 acres would be placed into a permanent conservation easement.

"We are simply asking the LUPC commission to rezone some areas within this area that would allow for future development," Irving Land Development Director Anthony Hourihan said at the hearing.

Commenters expressed concern about the potential for construction and residential use to pollute the lakes and disturb the area's solitude.

"I'd like to know, is there a high demand for this sort of development? Have you heard from a lot of people who want this and are demanding it?" commenter Shelly Mountain said.

Earlier this month, Hourihan told the Bangor Daily News that there already are 400-plus existing camp lot leases at the lakes, adding "if we are going to allow future development it makes sense to do it where there is already that development."

According to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Irving's proposal involves rezoning a portion of its land in the Fish River Lakes region in Aroostook County to a "resource plan protection subdistrict" in order to implement the concept plan.

The plan and related documents can be found on Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's website.

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