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Heniger Park Lease Mediation Rejected by Otisfield Selectmen

Friday, February 27, 2015

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A growing dispute over the terms of new 99-year leases being offered by the Otisfield, Maine Board of Selectmen to 37 leaseholders in Heniger Park will not be headed to mediation despite a request made by representatives of the leaseholders association.

 

The park was donated to the town in 1943 with the stipulation that the Board of Selectmen decide how to use the property. Beginning in 1965 the board began offering leases on 37 lots in the area for $50 or less in annual leasing fees. Most of the lots have been used to build campgrounds, and the town has collected tax revenues on all structures, but not on the land.

 

As the oldest leases are expiring in 2015, the Board drew up a new lease program, offering 99-year leases with 10-year review periods; the new leases are specifically designed to increase tax revenues on the property in question. The leaseholders objected to several provisions of the new leases (including the review period, which they claim makes it difficult to obtain financing on the property, and the fact that since they do not own the property selling the camp businesses is very difficult). The board has made two rounds of adjustments to the lease language, but the leaseholders association recently notified the board that less than half the leaseholders are willing to sign the new leases without further changes.

 

The Board of Selectmen has stated they will not make any more revisions to the leases, and will not submit to mediation, describing the current lease language as “take it or leave it

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