Zoning districts in Bar Harbor’s downtown village. The area labeled E1, shown in red, is the Downtown Village I district. The pink area labeled E2 is Downtown Village II. Bar Harbor Gateway is in the upper left corner, shown in blue. MAP COURTESY OF THE TOWN OF BAR HARBOR

Parking zoning moves ahead

BAR HARBOR — A group of amendments to the town’s land use ordinance (LUO) dealing with parking are headed to voters in June following public hearings before the Town Council Tuesday.

“The Planning Board was asked to put forward a set of recommendations related to parking,” Planning Director Bob Osborne said. “They aren’t attached to any specific construction plans.”

The recommended changes come as 10 separate proposed warrant articles. They add “parking lot” and “parking deck” as allowed uses in certain districts and clarify definitions and “accessory use” language related to parking.

Parking lots can be stand-alone commercial enterprises under the proposal.

Residents at the hearing praised the Planning Board’s work.

“It was a good process at the Planning Board hearing” in December, Arthur Greif said of the parking deck proposal. “It’s a good idea.”

“Parking garage” is proposed to be added to six districts, each in a separate article: three downtown districts and the three districts that include College of the Atlantic, the MDI Biological Laboratory and The Jackson Laboratory.

A garage that has been proposed for the Backyard Parking Lot behind the West Street Hotel to be owned and operated jointly by the town and by hotel company Ocean Properties is in the Downtown Village I district.

Because parking garages already are allowed as an accessory structure to hotels, Greif said, “the West Street Hotel could buy land and build a garage there as the LUO stands now.”

Passing the amendment allowing garages as a primary use in that district, he argued, “would allow the town to subsidize a garage for Ocean Properties.”

Resident Andrew Gervais asked about whether building parking lots and garages would increase the amount of paved land in town, and what the environmental impacts might be.

“Structured parking attempts to reduce the footprint” of a parking facility, Osborne said. Stacking vehicles on more than one level reduces both paved land area and visual impact, such as views from trails in Acadia National Park.

Action on the last amendment on the slate, an unrelated change reducing the minimum lot area per family in downtown districts, was tabled to the March 21 Town Council meeting.



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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