Appeals Board upholds Acadia Apartments approval



BAR HARBOR — An expansion of workforce housing on West Street Extension cleared another challenge by one of its neighbors at the Appeals Board meeting this week. 

BHAPTS LLC has been trying to redevelop the Acadia Apartments complex for years and has faced several appeals by Elizabeth Mills, a member of a trust that owns the historic Farm House property next door.  

Mills challenged the town’s Planning Board August finding that the apartment expansion would not have an “undue adverse” effect on any nearby historic sites, including the 1810 property, which is known for its Beatrix Farrand garden. 

On Tuesday, the Appeals Board heard Mills’ case, argued by her attorney Arthur Greif, but denied the latest appeal after finding that the Planning Board had adequate evidence to make its decision.  

“I believe that the Planning Board had all the evidence that they needed to make their decision,” said Appeals Board member Robert Webber.  

Greif argued that the Planning Board had only considered adverse impacts on the garden and not the entire 4.2-acre property. He felt that late-night noise, lights from the second and third floors and trespassing and littering should be included in the definition of adverse impacts.  

BHAPTS attorney Andrew Hamilton contended that unsubstantiated claims of littering and trespassing are not related at all to the land-use ordinances that the Planning Board follows and hold no sway in these decisions.  

Appeals Board member Ellen Dohmen wasn’t sold on Greif’s argument either and noted that there are ordinances to limit noise and lighting and there was no record of the littering or trespassing that was claimed by Mills. 

“Some of that list that’s given as to what would impact on a historic property are not something that is part of our purview,” she said. 

This was the third appeal by Mills. The previous appeal was largely shot down by a superior court judge who denied all but one of her eight claims. The judge did remand the issue of potential adverse impacts on historic sites back to the Planning Board, telling the board that it had to consider neighboring sites, not just the applicant’s parcel.  

“Simply put, the judge upheld the overall approval of the project by the Planning Board and remanded on a single issue as a housekeeping matter,” Hamilton said. 

He said that the Planning Board’s approval in August was “a clean third strike right over the plate against a batter that has less to work with in this third appeal than what he and his clients have ever had to work with on the merits.”  

The Appeals Board decision to uphold the Planning Board’s vote was unanimous. 

The BHAPTS property at 25 West Street Extension was developed by a prior owner in 1986 as 16 multifamily units. In 2017, BHAPTS, which is owned by Ocean Properties, applied to expand the property from four buildings to seven. The number of units would remain at 16. The property will house employees of Ocean Properties.  

Eben Salvatore, the chief of operations for Ocean Properties, hoped that this would conclude a four-year effort to do the housing project. There has been vehement opposition at times, with an opponent of the project being escorted out of the Planning Board’s last meeting by police. 

Construction crews were expected at the site on Wednesday to begin some preliminary work and Salvatore planned to get foundations in before the winter and the exterior erected by Christmas.  

Ethan Genter

Ethan Genter

Former reporter for the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander, Ethan covered maritime news and the town of Bar Harbor.

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