BAR HARBOR — A citizen petition seeking to regulate the number of passengers able to disembark from cruise ships in town will get a chance for public comment and discussion at the next Town Council meeting on July 19.
The petition, which was submitted in March, will appear on the November town meeting warrant.
This hearing is the next step in the process after the group of petitioners presented the citizen’s initiative to Town Clerk Liz Graves with the signatures – at least 300 – required to put the initiative up for a vote.
The proposal, led by Charles Sidman with support from a number of Bar Harbor residents, aims to change the language of a land use ordinance amendment to limit the number of passengers from cruise ships to no more than 1,000 per day. Currently 5,500 passengers are allowed to visit per day in May, June, September and October with 3,500 passengers per day in July and August.
If the measure succeeds, the harbormaster and code enforcement officer would establish a new process for issuing and regulating permits to property owners seeking to allow citizens to disembark. The harbormaster would develop a new reservation system for cruise ships that transport passengers into town and a tracking system to count those disembarking.
In a recent conversation with the Islander, Sidman said he plans to speak regarding the petition at the hearing. In doing so, he said he would address the history of cruise ships in town, tell citizens what to expect if the measure passes and outline the “solid legal ground” the petitioners believe they have for placing such limits.