A planned expansion of this apartment complex, which is used for employee housing by Bar Harbor Hotels, was approved by the Planning Board in late April after more than a year of appeals and court actions. ISLANDER PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

New plan for Acadia Apartments approved

BAR HARBOR — After the Board of Appeals said a planned redevelopment of a West Street Extension apartment complex contained more apartments than are allowed, the Planning Board approved a revised plan with fewer units on April 29. 

The apartments are used for employee housing by Bar Harbor Hotels, mostly for seasonal workers. The property and buildings are owned by Bar Harbor Apartments (BHAPTS), which is controlled by the hotel group. 

“We want to move on and be actually able to do this project,” attorney Andy Hamilton, representing BHAPTS, told the Planning Board. 

In February, the Board of Appeals heard an appeal brought by Elizabeth Mills, whose property abuts the apartment complex, for the second time. The board found that the Planning Board had erred in calculating the maximum number of units and how many of those are required to be designated affordable. 

It remanded the application to the Planning Board; that remand to be “limited to consideration” of those calculations. 

In the revised plan, one of the buildings is converted from four apartments to two, for a total of 16 apartments in the complex, down from 18. 

How many of those apartments are required to be designated as affordable housing remained a sticking point: at the Planning Board meeting, numbers from one to six were debated, and the board settled on three. The reasoning was that five affordable units are required under the relevant section of the land use ordinance, but that two of those may be removed based on credits received for being pedestrian-friendly and for having underground utilities. 

Three affordable units was more than the applicant had planned, but Hamilton said it would be acceptable. 

The project was initially approved by the Planning Board in February of 2019. Mills appealed in March. The Board of Appeals dismissed the appeal in April on the grounds that the appeal application was incomplete. 

In May, Mills filed a Superior Court complaint challenging the board’s decision. The court had not yet acted on the matter in August, when the town’s planning department issued a building permit for the project for concrete foundations for the planned new buildings. 

In October, Mills also asked the court for a stay delaying construction activities until her court complaint was resolved. 

Justice Ann Murray granted the stay in a December decision, which also remanded the application to the Board of Appeals, finding Mills had met all requirements in filing the appeal, and instructed the board to hear the appeal on the merits. 


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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