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Waterfront home bailout?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis February 13, 2014 09:54 AM

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Today's majestic waterfront home could very well turn out to be tomorrow's underwater wreck.

Sea levels along the Massachusetts coast are expected to rise two to six feet over the course of this century. In fact, they have already risen by nearly a foot over the past century.

More powerful and destructive storms like Sandy are already ripping apart sections of the coast, wiping out waterfront homes in a matter of a few furious hours.

So what happens to all those waterfront homeowners who are now finding themselves in the path of coastal inundation?

One proposal, being pushed by the head of the state Senate's global warming and climate change committee, could be the first step towards a taxpayer funded bailout.

Sen. Marc Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat, recently unveiled a wide-ranging bill that envisions, according to The Republican, Springfield's daily, "a coastal buy-back program, which would authorize the state to acquire, from willing sellers, properties located in flood plains, containing structures damaged by weather or in areas near tides. Those properties would be used for conservation or recreation."

Interestingly, Pacheco left a price-tag off the bill, advancing only the nebulous idea that existing state funds could be redirected to pay for the initiative.

Of course, it doesn't take a rocket scientist - or a climatologist - to figure out the potential cost of this buy-back plan could easily escalate into the hundreds of millions.

And should all waterfront homeowners be eligible? If you have someone who throws caution to the wind and recklessly builds their multimillion-dollar dream palace near the ocean where erosion is stripping away the coast, should they get bailed out?

Then again, what about homeowners on Plum Island, many of whom bought or built modest homes on lots that years ago seemed safely tucked back from the beach, only to have waves lapping at their doorsteps now?

Do you own a house near the water? What's your take?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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