An interesting case in Newburyport, MA sees a handful of homes receiving 15% property tax abatements for loss of property and the “environmental stigma” of eroding shorelines.
“the evidence reflects that conditions on or reported about severe erosion on Plum Island clear the hurdle for a finding that an environment stigma in the form of severe erosion and ocean surges coupled with property loss and damage and prominent and notorious media reports exist in the area where the subject properties are located and is likely adversely impacting the marketability and value of subject properties.”
Six property owners got up to $1500 off their tax bills in 2010 and will do so again in 2011 because they claimed they were being unfairly taxed for property that had eroded away and was now underwater (and therefore part of the public trust). Now, while this is interesting from a land use law perspective, what is really the most economically efficient solution?
The town gave owners a break on their taxes because their property washed away, but that doesn’t really accomplish anything in terms of addressing the problem. Homeowners on Plum Island will continue to face the erosive force of rising seas, and the town may have to ante up again to dump more sand on the beach (a follow up question is whether or not the town got a designed beach renourishment design, or just trucked in a bunch of sand themselves). Perhaps the thing to do would have been to use those abatements as the seed money for funding future renourishment or protection efforts. This could have been the birth of an innovative private-public-partnership.
What do you think? Other ideas for managing beaches and appeasing homeowners who are losing property with every storm? Let us know in the comments below.
And, speaking of time-limited things, don’t forget to submit your photos to Woods Hole Group’s Favorite Beach Contest before the Labor Day deadline!