An architect's concept drawing of the new Mount Desert Street Inn, a 31-room bed-and-breakfast planned for the corner of Mount Desert and Spring streets. Robert and Anne Bahr, who own several B&Bs in town, have appealed the Planning Board’s approval of the project. IMAGE COURTESY OF TOWN OF BAR HARBOR

Appeal filed against bed-and-breakfast

BAR HARBOR — Bed-and-breakfast owners Robert and Anne Bahr are appealing a town decision to approve construction of a new 3- and 4-story, 31-room bed-and-breakfast at 68 Mount Desert St. They claim the planned new facility does not fit the definition of “bed-and-breakfast.”

The proposal is to demolish the 12-room motel at 68 Mount Desert St. and replace it with the new bed-and-breakfast. Mother-and-son team Cathy and Steve Coston, doing business as Mount Desert Street LLC, own and operate the current motel.

The Planning Board approved the project’s conditional use application in April after more than a year of review with the applicants and the Design Review Board, but the board’s attorney and one board member expressed concern that the project might not meet the bed-and-breakfast definition.

“A bed-and-breakfast is defined as being in a dwelling unit, which aligns with the traditional concept of a bed-and-breakfast being in someone’s existing home, for a former stately residence being converted into accommodation,” attorney Diane O’Connell wrote in appeal documents. “Thus, it is very clear that a bed-and-breakfast is different from a motel and a hotel in that it must be a converted structure that is or was a dwelling unit at some period in time.”

The Bahrs also argue, through O’Connell, that the number of rooms in a new bed-and-breakfast should be limited to 25 and that requirements for a loading dock were waived improperly.

The Appeals Board was set to hear the complaint Tuesday, but postponed the business until July 26 due to the lack of a quorum.

Two current Appeals Board members plan to recuse themselves on the matter, board Chair Ellen Dohmen said. Linda Martin owns property that abuts the project. Roger Samuel has a significant financial relationship with the Bahrs, having sold the former Graycote Inn to them last year.

Those members are set to attend the July 26 meeting to go through the process of formally asking for recusal. Dohmen cautioned that the seated board at the July 26 meeting might be four members, and a split 2-2 vote would mean the appeal is automatically denied.

Robert and Anne Bahr and Andrew Geel also own the Cleftstone Manor, the Thornhedge Inn and the White Columns Inn.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of rooms in the approved application.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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