Eben Salvatore of Ocean Properties ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Employee housing expansion

BAR HARBOR — A proposed expansion of employee housing for hotel company Ocean Properties LTD on North Woodbury Road has raised some questions.

Residents, town planning officials and OP representatives met at the property on April 19 to discuss development. The property, listed at 25 West Street Extension but accessed via North Woodbury Road, currently has 16 units in four buildings where OP employees live.

Town ordinances, according to Planning Director Janna Richards, allow five unrelated people or six relatives to stay in each unit, for a maximum of 80 to 96 people. Richards said the ballpark estimate was 80-85 at the property.

Four new two-unit buildings are proposed, but the proposal says it won’t result in a net increase in the number of units.

Eben Salvatore, director of operations for Ocean Properties and part of BHApts LLC, told the Islander before the walk-through that existing four-unit buildings will be reconfigured into two-unit buildings.

Salvatore said he did not know how exactly many people stay in the complex because the number is fluid. He estimated that 60-65 people occupy the 16 units. The additional structures will allow about 20 more beds in the complex, he said.

Neighbors were concerned about two auxiliary driveways that would be built during construction. Salvatore said they were only suggested, and the plan could change.

“There’s not going to be 50 cars heading in and out of here,” he said.

The Moore Company, headed by resident Perry Moore, is leading the site plan application on behalf of Ocean Properties. Moore said the driveways would be used mainly for moving in and out of the apartments.

After the walk-through, a neighborhood meeting was held at the Municipal Building. Salvatore said the driveways were discussed at length and that he has instructed Moore to look at whether they could be eliminated.

“Everyone was fine with the units tucked in behind [the property],” Salvatore said. “People were worried about the driveways on Woodbury, and we’re going to try to eliminate those based solely on public input.”

Moore said the neighborhood meeting had a supportive tone. He said the neighbors in attendance believed this project would “clean up” the area.

“We’ve got a good track record in the neighborhood,” Moore said.

Salvatore said the complex was low-income, Section 8 housing when Ocean Properties acquired it in 2012 for $1,137,000.

The street is used for leisure by its residents, and the removal of trees to make room for the buildings would be a blight on the neighborhood, said Woodbury Road resident Bobbi Avancena in a statement.

“In studies nationwide, street trees have been found to be second only to education in residents’ perceived value of municipal services,” she wrote. “Trees and places for taking walks have been found to be among the most important factors considered when individuals chose a place to live.”

Further, Avancena said the description of the planned changes was crafted to “downplay” the scope of the changes.

“The plan, which I oppose, has been carefully crafted and promoted as a project where ‘the number of dwelling units remains unchanged’ thereby downplaying the actual increase in density and decrease in green space,” Avancena wrote.

The Planning Board has yet to conduct a completeness review for the project application.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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