Info session planned for proposed LUO changes  

BAR HARBOR — Planning and code enforcement staff will hold a public information session next week to explain the proposed land use amendments that will likely go before voters in November.   

Amendments for the land use ordinance include for signage, solar photovoltaic systems, accessory dwelling units, bonus dwelling units, nonconformity and short-term rentals, the last of which is one of the more contentious issues in town.   

Staff plan to go over the proposed changes and take questions that pertain to a better understanding of the proposals.   

The Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing next month on the short-term vacation rental amendments, which came from the Town Council.   

The new regulations would put vacation rentals, such as Airbnbs, into two categories: VR-1 and VR-2.  VR-1 would be rentals that are the owner’s primary residence; a VR-2 would be rental properties that are not.   

VR-1s would have a two-night minimum stay and VR-2s would have a minimum rental period of four nights. An owner would not be allowed to have more than two VR-1s in their primary residence.   

There is no distinction currently between the types of vacation rentals and they all require a four-night stay.  

Under the new proposal, the total number of VR-2s in town would be capped at 9 percent of the total number of dwelling units in town. The transfer of any vacation rental registration would be prohibited. VR-1s would be allowed in all 34 districts they are currently allowed in, and new VR-2s would be limited to districts zoned for commercial and lodging.   

Anyone who owns an existing vacation rental would be able to continue operating as long as the registration was renewed annually.   

The town staff’s informational session will be held on Tuesday, June 29 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers of the town municipal building. The Planning Board’s public hearing is scheduled for July 7.    

Ethan Genter

Ethan Genter

Former reporter for the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander, Ethan covered maritime news and the town of Bar Harbor.

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