September 23, 2020

Camp owners to discuss lease fee raises with G-P officials

ORIENT — Representatives of camp owners who lease land from Georgia-Pacific Corp. and company officials will meet Thursday to discuss leaseholders’ concerns about dramatic increases in lease fees.

Larry Hunter of Presque Isle, president of a newly formed leaseholders group, said Monday that representatives of the group have been invited by G-P officials to meet with them Thursday at the company office in Woodland to talk about leaseholders’ concerns.

“We feel good about that,” Hunter said. “It’s not a negotiations meeting, but issues will be put on the table. Hopefully from that meeting, other meetings will come about and we’ll make some progress toward compromise.”

Camp owners are upset by recent lease agreements with G-P that have resulted in a 200-percent increase in annual lease fees.

Of particular concern is the fact that, in addition to an administration fee and the property tax on the land, the company is charging a percentage of what it says is its investment value in the land.

That percentage was based on a separate appraisal done for the company rather than appraisals done for the towns in which the camps are located. Both appraisals were done by Dickey Appraisal Service of East Holden.

Under the municipal appraisal, a typical camp lot on East Grand Lake was valued at $18,000. That valuation jumped to $43,000 when G-P had the appraisal done.

As far back as 1990, G-P had told camp owners the company would seek a percentage of its investment value in the land as part of its lease agreement. That fee, according to a company letter in 1991, would start at 2 percent in 1992 and eventually would increase to 5 percent.

After much protest, the company placed a moratorium on the lease fee, holding it at 2 percent for the next three years.

Camp owners, however, are still concerned that the company has not addressed the issue of the discrepancy between the two appraisals or that the 1992 lease fee still is 200 percent greater than the year before.

Hunter said that camp owners have two basic goals. The first is to try to work out a purchase agreement with the company. If that cannot be done, camp owners would like to have a minimum five-year lease that is not based on land valuation done for G-P by Dickey Appraisal Service.

“We know there’s got to be a compromise,” said Hunter. “Georgia-Pacific is entitled to a fair return on their property. But we feel a 200 percent increase in one year is not fair.”

On Sunday, members of the group met to nominate officers and to begin planning how best to deal with the company on the lease issue.

A slate of officers was chosen, which will be presented to the entire group at the next meeting on Aug. 23.

Lewis Bone of Houlton was nominated for vice president of the group; Ralph Nickerson of Houlton, treasurer; and Dawn Jandreau, Presque Isle, secretary.

Thirteen other people have been nominated to serve on committees to handle negotiations, legal activities, legislative proposals, public relations and membership.

Hunter said the group also plans to contact other people who lease land from G-P to get them involved in the negotiations effort.

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