GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 14, 2013

‘For sale’ signs may sprout at Long Beach as residents react to leases

Families unhappy with town deal for land rent

ROCKPORT — Long Beach residents say they are experiencing a severe case of sticker shock after receiving new 10-year lease agreements for their summer homes from the town.

One seasonal Rockport resident, Jim Santo, said he’s considering selling his second row cottage at Long Beach.

Santo estimates his new land lease, which is based on the fiscal 2014 land assessment, will ultimately mean paying an additional $750 per year over each year of the 10-year agreement.

Selectmen have decided to gradually raise the land rent to 3.25 percent of the fiscal 2014 assessed land value over each year of the 10-year leases. Meaning, no matter what happens to the land itself, the rental rates are based on the 2014 assessment value.

The 10-year leases that expire Dec. 31 charged $2,100 for annual land rent for a beach-front cottage and $1,300 for a back row cottage, with that number going up with the consumer price index.

Santo recalled in 2003 paying just a few hundred dollars a year for land rent; his wife’s family has been at Long Beach for about 50 years, he said. By the end of the new lease, Santo will be paying about $9,000 a year in rent for the land under his family’s cottage.

Given that the lease only lasts 10 years and a tenant cannot get a mortgage without the town’s approval, selling a cottage and land lease might be more difficult than it sounds, Santo said.

“It (has) made it very difficult for a buyer to be interested,” Santo said.

The former head of the Long Beach Improvement Association said he’s not the only one considering selling their Long Beach property.

“It’s put a lot of people in very, very difficult situations,” he said.

Others posting on a Facebook group about Long Beach also claim the “for sale” signs will be popping up.

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