News Feature

Stonington
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, March 21, 2019
Selectmen seek talks with Island Heritage Trust reps

by Rich Hewitt

Selectmen balked at granting a tax exemption to the Island Heritage Trust for two properties in town the trust recently acquired and instead opted to request a meeting with trust representatives about those and other parcels it owns.

The board reviewed a letter from the trust seeking the exemption for an 11.5 acre parcel on Buckminster Point Road and a half-acre parcel on Oceanville Road which includes a small beach near the bridge. The combined tax value on the two properties is $110,100. That amount raised a red flag for selectmen. Evelyn Duncan pointed out that every time a parcel comes off the tax rolls, it increases the tax burden on the rest of the town’s taxpayers.

The trust owns nine other parcels in town, including at least four, high-tax-value islands, and Duncan noted that the tax impact on the town is significant. She added that the trust also owns several properties on Deer Isle.

Town Manager Kathleen Billings raised a safety issue regarding the Oceanville Road property expressing concern that there is little space for parking if the beach was opened to the public.

Selectmen also raised the issue of payment in lieu of taxes, but Billings said that very little money comes to the town through that program.

It was Duncan who suggested the meeting with the IHT representatives.

“I’d like them to come here and tell us what they do with these properties,” she said.

Billings said she will try to set up a session in the near future.