A plan to expand this apartment complex on West Street Extension in Bar Harbor was conditionally approved by the planning board last week. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Employee apartment project moves ahead



BAR HARBOR — The town’s review of a proposed expansion of an apartment complex used for seasonal employee housing continued last week as the public hearing wrapped up and the planning board offered conditional approval.

Acadia Apartments, a subsidiary of hotel company Ocean Properties, has applied to modify an existing 16-unit apartment complex at 25 West Street Extension to make 18 units. 16 units will be for seasonal workers employed by Ocean Properties, and the remaining two will be affordable year-round apartments.

The plan calls for reconfiguring the existing buildings to make larger apartments and build several new buildings.

During public comment, resident Kendra Rand referred to comments made at previous parts of the public hearing and in letters to the editor in the Islander. “Several of them have invoked the need of year-round working families and I appreciate that.… [But] I don’t think we should prioritize any one demographic over another,” she said.

“It’s easy to make a caricature of people,” Rand continued. “At the end of the day, what we’re talking about is groups of people and whether we want to live near them. Be very careful and thoughtful about how we talk about people.”

Resident Donna Karlson spoke next, telling Rand, “I agree with everything you say,” before commenting, “One of the saddest days was when 25 West Street Extension was sold to [Ocean Properties] and people were evicted. We need year-round housing.”

Jeff Crafts spoke against the project and the length of the application process: “It’s been three calendar years: that’s a record. The changes have been constant. No one knows if this project meets the ordinance.”

But Eben Salvatore of Ocean Properties said “the changes in submittals have been one hundred percent a function of trying to appease the abutters.”

“I do appreciate the volleying back and forth with the neighbors and the abutters,” board member John Fitzpatrick said. “You may not have gotten everybody’s concerns addressed, but you’ve gotten a lot of them addressed.”

The board moved to accept the draft decision, pending receipt of required documents, by a 4-1 vote. Board members Tom St. Germain, Alf Anderson, Joe Cough and Basil Eleftheriou voted in favor and Fitzpatrick dissented.

The needed documents include finalized plans signed by court professionals, an affirmative marketing plan for the affordable units, and statements from Bar Harbor public works that the plan is sufficient.

Eleftheriou said he wanted to make conditions of the board’s acceptance as specific as possible, since “either way, this is going through an appeal process.”

If the applicant meets all the conditions and gets required documents in, the planning board is set to make the “formal final approval” at the Feb. 6 meeting.

 

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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