BAR HARBOR — Employee housing, especially for seasonal businesses, has been a point of contention in debates about affordable housing here.
The town planning department is putting forward two related proposals related to employee housing — a set of zoning changes, which go to the voters at Town Meeting elections in July, and a related newlicensing system for the dorm facilities. A public hearing on the latter, the proposed licensing ordinances, is set for the June 16 Town Council meeting.
“We recognize the importance of having the licensing language in place and ready for implementation if one, or both, of these (zoning) amendments pass,” Planning Director Michele Gagnon wrote ina memo to councilors. “This was something that both the Planning Board and the public expressed interest in having prepared before the ordinance amendments would take effect.”
The licensing ordinances do not require a town vote; the council may implement ordinance changes after a public hearing. If councilors vote to adopt these new ordinances, they would be contingent on voter approval of the zoning changes in July.
The purpose of the licensing ordinances are “to ensure that (the employee housing facilities) do not become dilapidated, a fire hazard, overcrowded with occupants, unsanitary, vermin infested or a detriment to the health, safety and welfare or repose of the people of Bar Harbor,” according to the draft ordinances.
Licenses would require at least two managers for the facility who are available 24 hours a day and able to be on site within 30 minutes, an annual inspection, laundry andcooking facilities on-site and weekly trash and recycling removal.
Licenses would be valid for one year and issued by the Town Council following notice to abutters and a public hearing.
Under the new framework, “employee living quarters,” or dorms, are intended to be built on a property that has a commercial primary use; employees living there may work at that onsite business, or another worksite owned by the same company.
“Shared accommodations” of various sizes are more like apartments, but they are distinct from multifamily housing in that “the occupants do not constitute a family or a single housekeeping unit,” and “the makeup of the occupants is determined by the landlord, property manager or other third party and not by the occupants themselves.”