WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King today introduced legislation, cosponsored by Senator Susan Collins, that would remove an antiquated deed restricting the use of land next to the Old Town Municipal Airport. The removal of the restriction would allow the city and the airport to work together to pursue economic development opportunities, attract new businesses, and help create jobs.
The introduction of the legislation comes after the Old Town City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Monday approving of the change.
“This is a prime example of how an outdated federal law – although originally well-intended – can get in the way of local efforts to drive economic development and create jobs,” Senator King said. “Old Town and airport officials, along with business leaders, are ready and willing to put this land to good use, and it’s time that the federal government help them accomplish that by stepping aside.”
“The City of Old Town has made great strides to redevelop this parcel of land, which is in a prime location for economic development given its proximity to the airport,” said Senator Collins. “Our commonsense legislation will remove this outdated and unnecessary deed restriction so that Old Town can focus on attracting new businesses and good-paying jobs.”
The use of the land has been restricted under a law passed by Congress in 1937 called the Bankhead Jones Farm Tenant Act, which authorized the federal government to acquire damaged lands – including the tract of land in Old Town – for the purpose of rehabilitating them for various programs, mostly related to farming. However, in the early 1980s, the land in Old Town was sold to be used as part of the Old Town Airport under the stipulation that it only be used for that purpose, due to requirements in the Farm Tenant Act.
The legislation introduced by Senators King and Collins in the Senate – and Congressman Bruce Poliquin in the House of Representatives – would remove that deed restriction so that the city and the airport can move forward with the development of the land to attract new businesses and create new economic opportunities.