Smith Islanders Speak Out Against Buyout Option - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Smith Islanders Speak Out Against Buyout Option

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SMITH ISLAND, Md.- A new proposal for the federal money to help restore Somerset County includes a one million dollar option to buyout homeowners on Smith Island who want to leave. 

However, many full time Smith Island residents are speaking out against the proposed idea.

Grayden Marsh says he has lived on Smith Island all his life and wants to be able to leave his home to his children when they grow up.

"It's just free. You're free from everybody else. You don't have anybody bothering you over here. Except for now. They just want to come and buy your house, and then tear it down and have you move somewhere else," said Marsh of Rhodes Point on Smith Island.

The buyout that Marsh is talking about is in the newest draft plan for Hurricane Sandy recovery in Somerset County. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has proposed using one million dollars to buyout homeowners who may want to leave the island.  The reasons could be for medical needs, unsafe housing conditions or other compelling circumstances. However, for some life time residents of Smith Island, the last thing they want to see is people leaving so they are taking a stand against it.

"We got a petition on all three parts of the island. We got one here on Rhodes Point, 100% of them signed it. Tylerton we got 100% signed down there and up in Ewell, we got about 90 something percent but we haven't gotten the total figures on that yet," said Edward Dize of Rhodes Point.

In fact, many full-time islanders that WBOC spoke with said people being bought out would damage property vales of other homes and hurt the economy for the small businesses on Smith Island.  State officials say they are concerned about the needs of the people who may want to move and want to keep the option open despite opposition from residents and even local officials. But for other, it's a thanks but no thanks mentality.

Dize said, "it's a history, there is a lot of history here on this island and we want to keep it here."

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