The first of its kind in the United States, the Nantucket Islands Land Bank was conceived by Nantucket’s Planning Commission, adopted by the voters of Nantucket, and established by a special act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1983.
Annual Town Meeting held April 5, 1983
Article 23 entitled “Nantucket County Land Bank” stated, in part: “To see if the Town will vote to instruct its representative in the General Court to file a bill in the Legislature, in the form of a home rule petition to establish a Nantucket County Land Bank… said bill, when approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, to be approved in its final form by the voters at Town Meeting in order for it to be implemented.” Based on a recommendation from the Planning Board, the original funding scheme was altered and language amended to describe the primary source of revenue as “A two-percent registration fee for certain transfers of real estate.” A vote was taken by a show of hands: Yes, 446; No, 1.
Special Town Meeting held December 5, 1983
Article 1 entitled “Acceptance of Nantucket Islands Land Bank Legislation.” No recommendation by the Finance Committee was made because the article was not ready in its final form. The article was mentioned but passed over.
Legislative and Executive Approval
The bill was approved by the state legislature just before Christmas 1983, and signed into law by then-Gov. Michael Dukakis on December 20, 1983.
Special Town Meeting held January 17, 1984
Article 1 entitled “Acceptance of Nantucket Islands Land Bank Legislation” was presented “To see if the Town will vote to accept Chapter 669 of the Act of 1983, An Act Establishing the Nantucket Islands Land Bank.” The Finance Committee recommended that the Town vote to accept this legislation, stating that “it is probably the last chance to preserve for public use and enjoyment some open spaces and beaches of the Nantucket Islands.” The vote was taken by a show of hands: Yes, 293; No, 12.
These were the historical milestones which created the Nantucket Islands Land Bank, a governmental program designed to acquire, hold, and manage important open spaces and endangered landscapes for the use and enjoyment of the general public. Since 1983, the Land Bank has served as a model for communities across the country. Due to the success of these efforts, as well as those of other public and private conservation groups, nearly half the island is now permanently protected open space.
Land Bank revenue is derived from a two percent fee which is levied against most real estate transfers on the island. This funding is used to acquire and manage land for open space, agriculture and recreational uses. The Land Bank is governed by a five member, publicly-elected Commission.