OTISFIELD — New contracts for residents leasing town land at Heniger Park on Pleasant Lake could be issued by next summer, Selectman Rick Micklon said.

Selectmen met with town attorneys in Portland on Wednesday in the first of three meetings to draft a new lease agreement. The town has begun to hammer out the legal framework of the deal, which it hopes to complete by October, Micklon said.

In June, residents authorized the town to offer new leases to 37 leaseholders along the 100-acre site. The new agreement would grant leases of 99 years if residents agree to terminate their current 50-year contract in writing between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2015.

The new agreement brackets properties into two pricing tiers: one rate for properties with water frontage along Pleasant Lake, and a lower rate for back-lot properties with no waterfront access.

Under the old agreement, lakefront lots were assessed at $30,000, and back lots at $15,000. To determine the amount of the lease, the values were multiplied by the tax rate of $11.55 per thousand dollars of property value, and a fee between $0 and $50 was tacked on.  

Under the proposed agreements, the value for lakefront lots will increase to $213,000 and back lots to $44,340. Instead of multiplying the land value by the tax rate, a land capitalization rate of 2.2 percent will be applied as the lease fee.

Excluded are any buildings. They are taxed at the current rate of $11.55 per thousand dollars of assessed value. 

Town officials estimate that if all property owners resign their lease, revenue could balloon from $9,528 to $100,551.

The proposal has not come without opponents. Some residents have balked at it, arguing that it will price them out of their summer homes.

The mostly wooded land was left to the town in 1943 by noted Broadway producer Jacob Heniger. His will stipulated that the Board of Selectmen decide what would be done with the real estate.

In 1965, the board drew up agreements allowing people to lease the 35 or so lots for fees ranging from $0 to $50 per year for 50 years. The leases expire between 2015 and 2032. Each agreement differed.

Also that year, leaseholders were allowed to build camps, and most did, paying taxes on the full value of structures, but not on the leased land.


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