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Not again: Location of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard still up for debate

By Associated Press, 11/10/2004

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) Here we go again: A New Hampshire commission has found that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is not located in Maine, but in New Hampshire, proving that this centuries-old dispute will never die.

The boundary controversy dates back to the 1600s. In 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the yard is in Maine. In 2000, the court again ruled in favor of yes, that's right Maine.

''I think the Supreme Court should hear this again,'' state Rep. Laura Pantelakos, a Democrat from Portsmouth, said Tuesday. ''There is overwhelming evidence in our favor, and they just threw it out.''

The latest report comes as the result of more than a year's time and research, said Pantelakos, who sponsored the bill establishing the nine-member New Hampshire Boundary Commission.

The commission, which has met 13 times since August 2003, studied the boundary by considering recent geographical surveys and soliciting information and testimony from authorities in the state of Maine. It also considered legal documents, maps, historical data and charts.

''The commission concludes that New Hampshire has historically owned the Piscataqua River and inland harbor,'' the report states.

The commission plans to file a resolution to be voted on in the Legislature. After that it would be sent to the U.S. Congress, the only legal body authorized to make an official change to the boundary line, Pantelakos said.

''This affects the whole state,'' she said, adding that the state is not ''whole'' if the shipyard is deemed to be in Maine.

The commission report examines the boundary between the two states ''with a particular focus on the Piscataqua River boundary.'' Pantelakos said commission members expressed concerns over Maine's assessment of taxes on the income of shipyard employees' spouses who live in New Hampshire.

Taxes aside, Pantelakos said the commission recently began to consider the issue of homeland security. She cited concerns that have arisen since Sept. 11, 2001, over which state has jurisdiction over patrolling the river and harbor.

Historian Ken Thompson, author of ''Deceive to Win: the Maine-New Hampshire Boundary Controversy,'' said the commission set out with the goal of finding the shipyard in New Hampshire and ignored any information from the other side.

Although he hasn't yet reviewed the latest report, Thompson called the controversy a ''non-issue.''

''New Hampshire is just kind of sticking their head in the sand and not listening to reason,'' he said. ''You have to understand that the boundary hasn't changed in 370 years.''

From Boston.com

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Being from New Hampshire, I would be happy if the shipyard were found to be on our side of the border (especially since it is Portsmouth Naval Shipyard :blink: ), which won't happen. You also have to look at the fact that the shipyard will probably be closed with the base closures coming up soon. I don't know what kind of effect that is going to have on my whole area.

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You live ovah in dovah?

I love that area, almost moved to Portsmouth, but settled on Providence at the last minute.

Welcome to the forum.

-oh yeah, the shipyard is definately in Maine.


I do live in "dovah". Portsmouth is a nice city and I go their to eat sometimes. Dover has a larger population. I think we've got to be in the top ten most populous cities in the state after Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Rochester, (and Salem, I guess, although I never really knew that one until I looked it up). Thank you for the welcome. And the shipyard may be in Maine, but it might as well be in NH since that's what people associate it with. (well I believe there is a lot of money involved too though)

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^Derry is the fourth largest in NH, not Rochester


Now that you mention Derry, I found that it seems to be listed as either something around 34,000 or 22,000. I don't know why there are two different numbers. I think it has to due with minor civil divisions and stuff like that.

22,000: An example

34,000: An opposing example

Since you and the state say 34,000 I guess I'll go with that one :D .

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A history of feeding off its neighbors

Eric Blom | January 21, 2005

For years, New Hampshire has been a bit of a commercial sponge, soaking up some of Maine's economic vitality by following a philosophy of government that's far different from that of its neighbors.

Now, the state to our south is threatening to absorb some of Maine itself, with a bill pending in the New Hampshire legislature to annex Kittery, Berwick and the Piscataqua River.

It's going after Vermont, too. New Hampshire Rep. David Currier, R-Henniker, has submitted a bill to annex Killington, in the middle of that state - at the request of the resort town.

"Puerto Rico and Guam are not connected to the United States of America yet they are involved in the United States of America," Currier said recently.

Maine officials are calling the annexation proposal a joke. One, Sen. Ethan Strimling, D-Portland, has responded with a retaliatory bill to annex Portsmouth and the Isles of Shoals.

But before Maine completely writes off as humor the New Hampshire proposal, people should think about how that state already feeds off its neighbors.

New Hampshire is famous for its tax structure - no income tax, no sales tax, low excise taxes and high property taxes.

What that means, of course, is that border retailers in Vermont, Massachusetts, Canada and Maine lose sales to New Hampshire. People aren't crossing the state line for a soda pop, but they are going into New Hampshire for the television or stereo.

These shoppers are supposed to pay sales taxes to their home states anyway, but few do. New Hampshire isn't forcing Mainers, Vermonters and Massachusettsites to break the law. New Hampshire just doesn't mind.

Likewise, some Mainers go into New Hampshire to register their cars. The practice is so common that officials here have called for police patrols of neighborhoods, looking for New Hampshire plates; for neighbors to turn in their neighbors for the common good.

Every July, Maine State Police have to send down an officer to look for people buying fireworks. It's legal to buy the small explosives in New Hampshire, so long as you take them home unused to states such as Maine, where they are illegal.

Plan to travel by train? You'll see a lot of passengers from New Hampshire benefiting from Maine's support of Amtrak. Most of the passengers between Portland and Boston are from New Hampshire, ticket sales prove, but that state's government doesn't chip in a dime.

Want to travel anywhere in the continental United States by automobile? Pay your toll to pass through a tiny sliver of New Hampshire.

Run a bottle-redemption business in Maine, Massachusetts or Vermont? Watch out for those New Hampshire empties that people try to sneak into their loads.

There is one bright spot: Maine has consistently won the legal battle to keep New Hampshire from gobbling up Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Even so, our sole U.S. neighbor keeps looking for ways to take a bite out of our state.

Maybe, to throw the fear of God into it, Maine should gang up with Vermont and Massachusetts to eliminate sales taxes on the New Hampshire border and give shoppers a 5 percent cash-back payment on merchandise.

After all, it wouldn't hurt to bring a few New Hampshire shoppers across the border for a change.

From Portland Press Herald

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New Hampshire will be sorry when it sprawls to death. It's current tax structure is ready to collapse, it can't fund it's public schools. It's refusal to properly fund it's share of transit will bite it in the ass when people who moved there for the cost can no longer bear the commute.

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New Hampshire will be sorry when it sprawls to death. It's current tax structure is ready to collapse, it can't fund it's public schools. It's refusal to properly fund it's share of transit will bite it in the ass when people who moved there for the cost can no longer bear the commute.


Unfortunately, I can think of few communities that have "sprawled to death." With the current U.S. system, sprawl is usually rewarded...

- Garris

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There are some drawbacks to living in NH. In NH most towns/cities have a much higher residential property tax than there counterparts in Massachusetts to compensate for a lack of state income tax.

If you work in Massachusetts and live in NH, as thousands do, you still have to pay Mass state income tax. This double whammy is historically offset by a more affordable housing stock because of the distance to Boston. Now housing prices are rising fueled by job growth around rts 128 and 495.

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From Manchester here. My partner is from Hudson. In Hudson, they are already starting to force the issue of sprawl. They and other NH communities are purchasing swaths of land to prevent developers from getting their crummy hands on it. Our economy is based on forests and natural beauty. I think our state has a good vision planned. Take every oportunity as it arises.

Our neighbor to the south has a national income tax, state income tax, state sales tax, high crime rate, lousy government, inefficient highway system, big spenders...not to mention a bad attitude. Wait until Bushie gets his national sales tax pushed through!!!

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