AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that would allow the city of Eastport to sell the Boat School without legislative approval was voted “ought to pass” Monday morning by the State and Local Government Committee.
But, as its sponsor Senate President Kevin Raye explained, the action triggered the requirement that a companion bill also be submitted.
LD 594 would remove the legislative approval requirement and allow Eastport to sell the Boat School to David Marlow, a luxury yacht manufacturer from Florida and Asia. Marlow plans to build a major manufacturing facility and create at least 100 new jobs. He also plans to expand the Boat School to a four-year cutting-edge boat-building college.
“As an emergency measure, this bill will take effect immediately upon passing the Senate and House and being signed into law by the governor, clearing the way for the city to proceed with a sale,” Raye said. Emergency legislation requires two-thirds approval by each chamber in order to pass but there has been no opposition to the measure, according to Raye.
But the part of the bill that would eliminate a community college easement that currently allows waterfront access needed to be put into a second bill, he said. Maine’s Community College System has been promised waterfront access by both Marlow and the city of Eastport at a new wharf that Marlow will be constructing.
“Prior to the work session, the Legislature’s Office of Policy and Legal Analysis said that merely removing the requirement for legislative approval of the city’s action is not a problem, but that eliminating the easement in an emergency bill could be interpreted by the courts as a transfer of property, which cannot be done in an emergency bill according to the Maine Constitution,” Raye explained.
“I decided it was best to avoid that possibility so we can ensure that the Marlow project is not complicated in any way,” Raye said. He will be submitting a second nonemergency bill Monday. This second bill will come back to the State and Local Government Committee and is the cleanest way to ensure a title unencumbered by easement, he said. As a nonemergency bill, the removal of the easement will be assured as soon as it is signed into law by the governor, but will not officially become law until 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.
No date has been set for the committee to hear the new bill.