LUO appendix is on chopping block

BAR HARBOR — A problematic appendix in the Bar Harbor land use ordinance (LUO) could be removed by Bar Harbor voters in June. A public hearing is set for Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m. on the proposal to restructure the LUO and move the information currently in the appendix into the body of the ordinance.

The appendix is a table that denotes permitted uses in 30 of Bar Harbor’s 40 districts. It was last amended in June to add parking in several districts.

The current proposed change consolidates all dimensional standards and permitted uses in one place.

“[The table] is kind of complicated and hard to read,” said Angie Chamberlain, the town’s interim planner. “We’re not changing what’s allowed in any district. It’s just simply moving the information to a different area of the ordinance.”

Appendix C was involved in a 2013 lawsuit that nullified changes made in 2010 allowing large hotels in Hulls Cove after a judge ruled that citizens were not properly notified about the proposed changes.

The appendix also came up during a 2015 lawsuit related to the Emera substation planned, at the time, for Woodbury Road. The Town Council initially didn’t want a citizen initiative zoning change for public utilities to appear on the same ballot as a larger LUO repeal-and-replace proposal, worrying the combination would produce confusing or contradictory results. That repeal-and-replace was voted down, but it included the currently proposed change of eliminating appendix C and moving the allowed uses into the body of the ordinance.

While all 40 districts’ dimensional standards are denoted in chapter 125, article 3 of the municipal code, only 10 districts have their permitted uses included there. Before 2010, according to Chamberlain, all of the districts’ permitted uses were in appendix C.

“We have 10 districts in this part of the ordinance and 30 in the other section; it’s just confusing,” Chamberlain said. “You don’t even know where to look for your information.”

The Planning Board wants to consolidate that information in the ordinance. Planning Board member Alf Anderson said the change is simple but necessary.

“The overall approach that we’re trying to take is to streamline the LUO,” Anderson said. “Appendix C is clunky, and we’re trying to make it clean in [Article] 3.”

The change to article 3 also will include individual maps of the districts in the ordinance preceding the land use information.

“[The Planning Board] just thought it would be helpful instead of looking at a big map,” Chamberlain said.”

The LUO can be found online, or residents can contact the town clerk for a physical copy.

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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