Government Relations: Verrill Helps Neighborhood Group in Dispute Over Proposed Ferry Legislation

In 2013, Jim Cohen helped a group of Yarmouth, Maine residents in a state legislative dispute involving the private ferry service serving the Town of Chebeague Island. In early 2013, the ferry service proposed draft legislation that would convert the private ferry company into a unit of local government with limited eminent domain authority on Chebeague Island. Neighbors on Cousins Island in Yarmouth – which is the mainland connection for the ferry -- were concerned that the legislation would give the ferry more political clout to expand parking and traffic in their neighborhood, and neighbors feared that expansions in ferry operations could be allowed based on actions in Augusta rather than locally. Jim Cohen, with help from Katie Gray and Gordie Smith, helped the neighbors research the relevant laws and presented the new information to neighbors and the Town of Yarmouth. Jim also worked with Kathie Summers-Grice of Maine Street Solutions to develop a website to help keep neighbors informed about the bill and help them connect with local elected officials. In mid-March of 2013, days after a presentation by Jim Cohen before the Yarmouth Town Council involving numerous comments from local residents, the Town of Chebeague Island voted to have the legislation withdrawn. This step allowed the two communities a fresh opportunity to work together on mutual solutions that can work for the long term. The dispute was covered by both the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald, both of which included quotes from Jim Cohen.