Sunday, March 26, 2017

Development

USA: Could Cards Against Humanity’s Birch Island Extreme Sub-Division Plans be Illegal?

Controversy surrounds Chicago-based game company Cards Against Humanity it is revealed that plans to sub-divide a 6-acre private island in Maine into 250,000 separate lots may be illegal.

Birch Island, Maine, USA - Photo Courtesy of Vladi Private Islands

Birch Island, Maine, USA – Photo Courtesy of Vladi Private Islands

A private island in Maine’s Lake St. George has found itself at the centre of a heated debate, after new owners, the Chicago-based game company Cards Against Humanity announced plans to sub-divide the six acre island into 250,000 separate 1-square-foot lots.

The company announced the purchase last autumn after successfully raising the USD 190,000 asking price through an innovative crowd-sourcing scheme which saw 250,000 gamers pledge USD 15 in exchange for 10 mystery gifts – one of which transpired to be a piece of Birch Island.

Residents Take Legal Action Against Sub-Division Plans

The plans to divide the island – since renamed Hawaii 2– were met with mixed reactions. Whilst the new lot-owners excitedly shared plans for the island, the long-term residents of Liberty expressed concern at sharing their otherwise peaceful lake with 250,000 new neighbours.

Yet if the suspicions of Code Enforcement Officer, Donald Harriman, are correct, the worst fears of the 900-strong community might yet come to pass. After taking a closer look at Liberty’s subdivision and shore-land zoning ordinance, Harriman is convinced that the kind of sub-division and development proposed by Cards Against Humanity is unlawful.

Ordering the company to revoke the 250,000 licences or face fines of up to USD 2,500 per day Harriman wrote: “Whilst it’s unlikely that the court would order penalties of USD 625,000,000 per day, the town will seek the maximum fines and legal fees as may be awarded by the court.”

“A remedial plan acceptable to the town must be in place on or before April 15, 2015 in order to avoid the filing of a land use enforcement action in court,” he concluded.

So Far No Response from Cards Against Humanity

Thus far, neither Harriman nor any other representatives from the town of Liberty have received a response from the Chigago card game company.

Liberty’s third selectman, Pam Chase, explained the reasons for their concern. “A lot of folks are worried about just how many visitors there might be. Even if we only had 500 visitors that showed up in one day, it would be quite a thing for our little town.”

“The purpose of a subdivision law is to limit population density,” she added. “We didn’t feel the subdivision ordinance would allow a parcel this small to be subdivided this many times. Yet the entire scheme appears to be a development with the possibility of intense use at various times.”

Good Intentions?

Yet an earlier statement suggests this was never the company’s intention. CaH’s co-creator, Max Temkin explained that participants were intentionally given a license instead of an ownership deed. After all, “if people really owned their land, they could try to get permission to build something on it, which is not what we had in mind. We’ll never develop the island.”

“The land will be kept as a pristine piece of wilderness. We joined the local Liberty Lake Association, and we’ll work with them to deal with any issues as they come up.”

Private Island News will continue to monitor the situation with interest.

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