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Glossary Q-Z

Real Estate Transfer Tax: A sales tax on land imposed on the transfer in ownership from one owner to another. The tax is usually based on the value of the land. Depending on the enabling legislation in the given state, this tax may be levied at the state or the local level.

Real Property: Land, buildings, and whatever is attached or affixed to the land. This is in contrast to personal property which are movable things such as boats, lobster traps, etc.

Remainder Interest: The residual ownership of property left in trust or in a life estate after the interest of a previous beneficiary or the life tenant has terminated. If John grants his lobster pound to his mother to own while she is alive, then John’s mother owns a life estate in the lobster pound, and John owns the remainder interest. When John’s mother dies, John will again own the lobster pound.

Remainder: n. in real property law, the interest in real property that is left after another interest in the property ends, such as full title after a life estate (the right to use the property until one dies). A remainder must be created by a deed or will. Example: "Patricia Parent deeds Happy Shores Ranch to her sister Sally for life and upon Sally's death to Charla Childers, Sally's daughter, or Charla's children if she does not survive." Charla has a remainder, and her children have a "contingent remainder," which they will receive if Charla dies before title passes. A remainder is distinguished from a "reversion," which gives title back to the grantor of the property (upon Sally's death, in the example) or to the grantor's descendants; a reversion need not be spelled out in a deed or will, but can occur automatically by "operation of law."

Remote Access: access, such as visual or psychological access, that can be achieved from a location that can be physically accessed, but does not necessarily need to be at the beach or shore.

Renewal: n. keeping an existing arrangement in force for an additional period of time, such as a lease, a promissory note, insurance policy or any other contract. Renewal usually requires a writing or some action which evidences the new term.

Reserved Life Estate: When a remainder interest is granted to another party, the grantor retains the right of ownership of the land for the rest of his life. This interest is known as a reserved life estate.

Restrictive Covenant: an agreement included in a deed to real property that the buyer (grantee) will be limited as to the future use of the property. Example: no fence may be built on the property when it abuts the shore. Commonly these covenants are written so that they can be enforced by the grantor and other owners in a subdivision, so that future owners will be bound by the covenant (called "covenant running with the land" if enforceable against future owners). Restrictive covenants can address any number of water-access rights, such as the number of allowed access trails to the water, or the annual water access road maintenance fees for a condominium complex.

Right of First Refusal: A provision in an agreement that requires the owner of a property to give another person the first opportunity to purchase or lease the property before he or she offers it for sale or lease to others.

Right of Renewal: A clause within a lease giving the holder of the lease the right to renew the existing lease for a specified term on specified conditions.

Right: a legal entitlement to do or refrain from doing something.

Rights-of-Way: The right for the public or designated individuals or groups to cross property to access another parcel.

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Shore: A shore or shoreline is the land at the edge of the ocean.

Special Assessments: To finance the construction or improvement of a large public facility, municipalities may impose charges on property owners who benefit from that facility. Typical examples include road improvements, sidewalk construction, street lighting, and sewer extensions, but they might also partially finance municipal wharf projects and other major waterfront improvements.

Special Permits: A permit for a use or structure that is not permitted as a matter of right in a land-use zone, but is permitted under the provisions of the zoning ordinance if certain special conditions defined in the ordinance are met. Special permits are sometimes also referred to as conditional uses, special uses, special exceptions, or secondary uses.

Subdivision Review Process: The process a developer goes through to obtain approval from a planning board for a proposed subdivision.

Submerged Lands: Land lying below tidal waters, seaward of the ordinary low water mark, including bays, inlets, and other arms of the sea, out to the seaward boundary of the State.

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Takings Clause: n. Clause of the US Constitution that limits the scope of governmental action by safeguarding private property and preventing governmental action that effectively deprives an owner of all economically viable uses of the land without payment of just compensation.

Takings: a shorthand way to refer to government regulations which the courts decide are unconstitutional because they violate the takings clause of the Constitution which states that the government will not take private property without "just compensation."

Tax Abatement: A reduction of taxes or an exemption from taxes granted by a local government on a piece of real property for a specified length of time.

Tax Credit: Reduces a taxpayer’s total overall income tax dollar-for-dollar. Has more impact on the cost to the taxpayer than deductions, but less than exemptions.

Tax Deduction: Only reduces the above-the-line taxable amount and thus only a percentage of each tax dollar on income tax. Has less impact on the cost to the taxpayer than tax exemptions, or credits.

Tax Exemption: Waives the obligation of certain defined individuals and entities to pay an income tax. Has the greatest impact on costs to the taxpayer, followed by tax credits, and deductions.

Tax Incentive: a tax reduction afforded to people for particular purposes, for example, donating coastal land to a land trust for use as a waterfront park

Tax Increment Financing (TIF): A method of financing redevelopment projects that is directly tied to the success of those projects. The goal is to make an economically depressed area more attractive to private developers, to generate new and rising tax revenues. Tax increment financing uses this increase in tax revenue to finance the improvements and activities that make redevelopment occur. To do this, the local government determines the property tax revenue it is collecting in the area before redevelopment occurs. The local government then borrows money, with loans or by the sale of bonds, to improve the development prospects of the area: loans to new businesses, capital improvements, new services such as improved street cleaning and security patrols, advertising and marketing. As development occurs in the area, tax revenue increases, and the excess above pre-redevelopment property tax revenue in the area is used to pay off the loans or bonds and to finance further redevelopment activities. That excess is the “tax increment” in tax increment financing.

Taxation: a compulsory charge against a citizen's person or property or activity for the support of government.

Title: n. 1) ownership of real property or personal property, which stands against the right of anyone else to claim the property. In real property, title is shown by an appropriate document recorded in the public records of the county such as a deed.

Transfer of Development Rights: A technique for guiding growth away from sensitive resources and toward controlled development centers through the transfer of development rights from one area to another. Development Rights in coastal areas would be restricted by the town (and the landowner compensated for that restriction). The town would then recover the cost of the restriction by selling the development rights to developers in other specially designated areas, allowing them to develop more densely than they otherwise would be permitted to.

Transfer: n. 1) the movement of property from one person or entity to another. 2) passage of title to property from the owner to another person. 3) a piece of paper given to allow a person or shipment to continue travel.

Trespassers: One who enters another person's property without permission of the owner and without lawful authority and causes any damage, no matter how slight. Any interference with the owner's (or a legal tenant's) use of the property is a sufficient showing of damage sufficient to form the basis for a lawsuit against the trespasser by the owner or a tenant using the property. Trespass for an illegal purpose is a crime.

Trust: n. an entity created to hold assets for the benefit of certain persons or entities, with a trustee managing the trust (and often holding title on behalf of the trust) for the benefit those certain persons or entities. "charitable remainder unitrust," which provides for eventual guaranteed distribution of the trust assets to charity, thus gaining a substantial tax benefit. For example, a person wishing to donate their land to a land trust to provide public access, but still live on the land can achieve this arrangement by putting the land in a trust, with the land eventually (after their death) going to the land trust. There can be tax benefits, and possible income to the trust beneficiary during the period the land is held in trust.

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Uniformity Clause: A section of the Maine Constitution that requires that taxes apply uniformly throughout the state. Article IX, Section 8, of the Maine Constitution provides: "Section 8. Taxation. All taxes upon real and personal estate, assessed by authority of this State, shall be apportioned and assessed equally according to the just value thereof."

Uplands: lands lying above the reaches of the highest high tides.

Use Right: a legally recognized entitlement to possess (use) something that is owned by someone else.

Use-value Assessment: see current use taxation.

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Visual Access: the ability to view the beach or shore from a location that can be physically accessed.

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Water-dependent: Uses that require direct access to the water to accomplish their primary function.

Water Dependent Use Zoning: A type of zoning ordinances for functionally water-dependent uses. Municipalities may establish districts within these zones to give preference to commercial fishing and other maritime activities. The ordinance would defines what constitutes a permitted water dependent use, and water other uses might be permitted by special permit. The zone must be consistent with the municipality's comprehensive plan.

Water-enhanced: Uses that do not require access to the water, but are enhanced by a waterfront location.

Water-related: Uses that do not require direct access to the water, but provide goods or services associated with water-dependent uses.

Working Waterfront: A term that applies to shoreline and coastal uses that depend upon water to function, such as fishing, boat-building, and all related industries (as opposed to restaurants, housing and other non-water-dependent uses). For current-use taxation purposes, "Working waterfront land" means a parcel or portion of a parcel of land abutting tidal waters or is located in the intertidal zone (located between the high and low water mark) the use of which is more than 50% related to providing access to or in support of the conduct of commercial fishing activities.

Working Waterfront Covenant: As defined by Maine law (33 M.R.S. c. 6-A), a legal agreement in recordable form between the owner of working waterfront property and one or more qualified holders (in this case to be held by the Maine Department of Marine Resources) to assure the permanent access to, and the availability and affordability of, the working waterfront real estate for commercial fisheries uses.

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Zone: 1) v. the act of creating zoning regulations; 2) n. an area designated by zoning regulations for a specific use. For example, a water-dependent use only zone.

Zoning Amendment: The addition of new ordinances or the modification of existing ordinances in a towns zoning regulation. Typically a zoning amendment must be enacted through the same process required to pass the original zoning ordinance.

Zoning Body: The entity that has the power to pass zoning ordinances, usually the town council or selectmen, or sometimes the state.

Zoning: n. a system of developing a city or county plan in which various geographic areas (zones) are restricted to certain uses and development, such as industrial, light industrial, commercial, light-commercial, marine use, agricultural, single-family residential, multi-unit residential, parks, schools and other purposes. Zoning is the chief planning tool of local government to guide the future development of a community, protect neighborhoods, concentrate retail business and industry, channel traffic and play a major role in the enhancement of urban as well as small-town life.

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