LUO rewrite dies on vine

BAR HARBOR — Article 2, the “repeal and replace” of the town’s land use ordinance (LUO), failed at town meeting elections Tuesday by a vote of 448-324.

Articles 3 and 4, citizen’s initiatives to amend the LUO, each received a majority of votes but fell short of the two-thirds margin necessary to amend the ordinance over the objection of the town’s planning board per language in the current ordinances.

A motion is pending in Hancock County Superior Court seeking to overturn the two-thirds rule, which has guided votes for the past several decades.

“We fought hard for the right of citizens to control the direction of this precious community,” said Arthur Greif, a member of the group that brought the initiatives. He, along with Sam Dunlap, are plaintiffs in the current litigation. “The council has fought us at every step of the way. They have tried to bury us. They forgot that we were seeds.”

Article 3, which amends the LUO to add a definition of “public utility installation,” received 446 yes votes and 324 no votes. Article 4, which adds a definition of “public utility facility,” had 432 votes in favor and 339 opposed. Both articles also amend the ordinance’s “Appendix C Table of Permitted Uses.”

According to town officials, the proposed replacement ordinance, which had the support of both the planning board and warrant committee, was not intended to introduce policy chances. The rewrite has been discussed as the first phase of a multi-phase project, and the planning board will continue to address changes to the ordinance, Planning Director Robert Osbourne said.

“We’ll take our lead from the planning board and the council.”

The planning board will begin discussions of next steps when they meet June 17, Osbourne said. “I’m hopeful that they can set some parameters that would be maybe less than the entire repeal/replace and more like a top-five kind of thing.” He said they would probably focus on a few specific changes that could be helpful.

The repeal/replace project has been in the works since 2010, when former town planner Anne Krieg contracted with attorney Mary Denison for the job. It was set to be completed by 2012, but was significantly delayed when Krieg left her position in 2011.

Previously, the rewrite has been on track for a vote twice, but was pulled from the ballots when errors were discovered by citizen activists and Warrant Committee members.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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