BAR HARBOR — Planning Board Chair Ivan Rasmussen resigned from the board effective Tuesday, citing travel plans and frustration with a small group of residents who have worked to resist proposed changes to the town’s land use ordinance (LUO).
“As we have tried to move forward with warrant articles, we have been met with resistance from people, who were active long before I was on Planning Board, making misleading public statements, sending out erroneous mailings and threatening lawsuits in this small town where people should be working towards compromise and consensus on important issues such as parking and housing,” he wrote in an email to the council and Planning Director Bob Osborne.
The council accepted the resignation Tuesday and members shared some of their own concerns about the tenor of debate on hot-button issues in the town.
“I actually feel that possibly the biggest challenge that we’re facing as a town is not whether or not to have a parking garage or cruise ship terminal, or changing the land use ordinance, but how we’re going to work together,”
council Vice Chair Gary Friedman said.
“Anything that we can do to build an atmosphere of trust, of constructive conversation and a sense that we’re working on this together,” he continued, “rather than a sense that there are some people trying to pull wool over others’ eyes, or slip something by, or do something for personal gain. In my five years on council, I haven’t seen those things happen.”
Councilor Anne Greenlee said Rasmussen’s personal example helped inspire her to stand for election. “He really tries to work with people, and it really gave me hope that it could be that way,” she said.
Councilor Burt Barker gave a “shout-out” to community activists who “are willing to work [with the council] as a unit and as a group.” He cited Roger Innis and Matt Hochman (before he was elected to council this summer) as examples of residents who, “whenever they shared an opposing position, it was always done reasonably, respectfully and thoroughly.”
Rasmussen, an artist and gallery owner, has served on the Planning Board since 2012, as well as on the Appeals Board and Transportation Task Force. He originally applied for a one-year term to fill a vacancy, he said, but was appointed for another three-year term.