Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Land Bond Passes

By a 2:1 margin, Mainers approved a $12 million bond to re-establish funding for the Land For Maine's Future program. It's not a lot of money - a far cry from the $50 million or so that legislators were planning to put forth in 2004 - but it will help to protect critical landscapes that are important to Maine's heritage. Mainers have always heavily supported the LMF bonds and I expect that organizers will be emboldened by Tuesday's victory to bring forth another bond proposal in a few years when this one runs out. LMF has done some important work, and look forward to supporting their cause in the future.

Also of note, and supported by an even greater margin, Mainers
approved a constitutional amendment that will permit the legislature to regulate taxes on commercial fishing property. Similar to the law that allows farmland, forestland and open spaces to be assessed at "current use" value, rather than market (i.e. development) value, this amendment will protect the small portion of Maine's coastline that is currently devoted to commercial fishing from residential development. This was kind of a no-brainer for Mainers, as the vast majority of people who are buying up the coastline for multi-million dollar mansions are "from away". Taxes assessed based on the development value of property have become a burden on fishermen, which endangers this important aspect of Maine's heritage and economy. Unfortunately for some, waterfront homes that are owned by families of fishermen (or, increasingly, former fishermen) are not protected. Many people whose waterfront homes have been in their family for generations have been forced to sell their homes because they are no longer able to afford the property taxes. While municipalities need to generate revenues somehow, it is a shame when someone has to leave the homestead for rising taxes.


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