Coastal property values are rising twice as fast as inland values.

BANGOR (AP) – The value of Ralph Cline Jr.’s wooded waterfront parcels in St. George have increased by 45 percent to $680,000 in the past two years.

As a result, his annual property taxes will jump by about $1,300 to more than $6,600. Such is the case in St. George, where waterfront properties as of late have sold for double or even triple their assessed value.

St. George isn’t alone. In the past five years, the taxable value of the 90 towns and cities along Maine’s shoreline from Kittery to Perry has increased twice as fast as the rest of the state, according to a Bangor Daily News analysis of Maine Revenue Service data.

Experts say if the growth trend continues for three more years, the value of the coastal communities will surpass that of the state’s other 400-plus towns and cities, including commerce centers such as Bangor, Lewiston, Auburn and Augusta.

Higher property values mean higher property tax bills. Some say the rising cost of owning a piece of Maine’s coast could accelerate the inland migration of natives who choose or are compelled to sell some or all of their waterfront property to wealthy newcomers better able to afford it.

In Cline’s case, his family has owned the point in Spruce Head for three generations. He lives in a modest 1950s-era home that overlooks Rackliff Bay, much of which is a mud flat at low tide.

“I don’t know how much longer I can hang on,” said Cline, 69, a former St. George selectman. “But I do know very well that the next generation is not going to live on the shore, and that’s a shame.”

Cline said he’s resisting the temptation to sell off parts of the family land to cash in on the lucrative coastal real estate market. But he’s had plenty of written inquiries from interested buyers.

The temptation to sell has been strong for many.

In the past two years, 29 waterfront homes hit the market in St. George, with 23 sold to out-of-state buyers.

One home at the mouth of the St. George River sold for $825,000, more than 21/2 times its assessed value. A second, valued at $575,600 in 2000, sold for $1.1 million the next year.

The high sales prices have assessor Jim Murphy wondering when and where home buyers will put on the brakes. He has received more than 100 letters from property owners challenging his most recent revaluation in which most waterfront properties rose 40 percent to 60 percent.

“I guess the madness has to end sometime,” said Murphy.

The rise in coastal property values isn’t restricted to midcoast or southern Maine.

Values in the town of Beals in far eastern Maine have increased by 80 percent since 2000. That’s faster than nearly every other community in the state, including such popular destinations as Kennebunkport, Ogunquit and the mansion-covered celebrity retreat of Islesboro.

Locals have maintained ownership of the northwest corner of Beals Island, a maze of dead-end streets crammed with tiny houses that is accessible by bridge from Jonesport.

But much of the remaining available land in town, which also hosts a 1,500-acre nature preserve on Great Wass Island, has gradually been bought up by affluent visitors.

This year, a Freeport surgeon paid $570,000 for a 10.2-acre lot. Three years ago, a larger lot that included the 10.2-acre parcel sold for $250,000.

“This time they’re not killing us off with guns and taking the land,” Beals Town Clerk Terry Feeney said.

“They’re taking the land with their money.”


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