Court action possible over unpermitted rental

BAR HARBOR — The town is set to pursue court action over a code violation at a Ledgelawn Avenue residence, following a unanimous town council vote Tuesday.

Rob and Kate Jordan have been renting a guest room over their barn by the month in the winter, and by the week in the summer, according to Code Enforcement Officer Angela Chamberlain.

The summer weekly rental is in violation of the town’s zoning ordinance, Chamberlain said. “Weekly rentals are only allowed in dwelling units,” she told the Islander. “This is not a dwelling unit.”

The couple applied for a vacation rental permit for their guest room in 2014 and 2015, and were denied both times. This was according to a stipulation in the ordinance that “transient accommodations” are only allowed in existing buildings constructed prior to June 10, 1986, Chamberlain said. The guest room over the barn was constructed in 2008.

Chamberlain served the Jordans with notices of violation in 2014 and 2015 for renting the property by the week without town approval. According to a memo sent to town councilors from Chamberlain on July 6, she had not heard from the Jordans since October of 2017, and learned in July of 2018 that they were “once again offering this space for rent on a weekly basis.”

“This issue was scheduled for the August [town council] meeting, but Mr. Jordan told the office he would apply to the Planning Board by Aug. 17 for a different use,” Town Manager Cornell Knight wrote in a memo to councilors. “That did not occur so it is now before the council for consideration.”

Rob Jordan said Wednesday he is working on getting the property into compliance with the ordinance.

“We are currently applying to be a one-bedroom B&B [Bed & Breakfast], which is an allowed use in our zone,” he said.

Those proposed plans were approved by the design review board at an Aug. 23 meeting. “The next step is to go before the planning board,” Jordan said, but he has a “lengthy checklist of things to have in place” before that happens.

He said he had met with Chamberlain and Town Planner Janna Richards about the steps to apply for a B&B permit.

At the council meeting Tuesday, Chamberlain recommended that the town council authorize the town attorney to file an enforcement action in District Court, or enter into “an administrative consent agreement for the purpose of eliminating the violations.”

“I hate it when it gets to this point,” said councilor Matthew Hochman, before voting with the other councilors to direct the town attorney take legal action.

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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