Berthing ban eyed



BAR HARBOR — In a split vote Tuesday, the Town Council directed the Planning Board to develop language for a proposed land use ordinance (LUO) change to prohibit cruise ship berthing piers. Any proposed change would then need to be approved by voters.

Councilor Joe Minutolo brought the matter up for discussion. With a related citizen initiative, Article 5 before voters in June, Minutolo told counselors that the issue of preventing large cruise ships from berthing is important to many in the town, and an issue that won’t go away.

Public hearings on two citizens’ initiatives, Articles 4 and 5 were held earlier in Tuesday’s council meeting. A community discussion on both initiatives was held at Jesup Memorial Library Wednesday evening.

“We need to build trust,” Minutolo said. “This has been a very divisive issue. If we say vote against Article 5, we need to give them something to vote for.”

Councilor Matt Hochman suggested adopting a cruise ship policy, which would not be as binding as a LUO change. “It could be changed by a future council, [but] it’s a statement,” Hochman said. “I think that might solve a lot of problems [and] be a cleaner way to do it.”

“We’d be better off promoting something through the LUO,” said Council Chair Gary Friedmann. “There’s a feeling that if we don’t do this, the article [5] will pass.”

Councilor Paul Paradis said a LUO change blocking cruise ship berthing piers could “tie the hands of the town” when there is no plan in place to pay for the newly acquired ferry terminal. He also questioned whether an ordinance change was needed, when “there’s nothing on the table to build a cruise ship pier.”

The motion passed 4-3, with Councilors Friedmann, Minutolo, Hochman and Judie Noonan voting in favor; and Councilors Paradis, Erin Cough and Stephen Coston voting against.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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