BAR HARBOR — The Planning Board will hold public hearings on Wednesday, Jan. 8, on five proposed land use ordinance (LUO) changes. The public hearings will take place at the 4 p.m. meeting.
The five proposed amendments are “making their way through the formal process to possibly be on the June 2020 ballot. The process formally starts with public hearings” held by the Planning Board, Town Planner Michele Gagnon explained to town councilors in a Dec. 12 memo.
The first proposed change is the smallest one: to replace the term “Municipal Tax Assessor” with the term “Addressing Officer” in Article V of the LUO. This, Assistant Planner Steve Fuller, explained, would align the LUO with the new addressing ordinance passed by the Town Council in October. The addressing ordinance established a standard procedure for assigning street addresses, as required by state law for any municipality that participates in emergency services.
The second proposed LUO amendment is to reduce the level of review for multifamily structures from Planning Board approval to Code Enforcement Officer approval in certain districts. The proposed change would also allow two-family dwellings in districts where multi-family dwellings are already allowed.
This proposed change, Gagnon explained in the memo, is meant to further the Town Council’s policy framework for encouraging the development of year-round housing by streamlining the planning process.
The next two proposed amendments are to create and define the new uses of Employee Living Quarters (ELQ), and Shared Accommodations (SA), commonly called boarding houses.
ELQs, as proposed, are “a series of rooms containing beds, where the occupants do not constitute a family or single housekeeping unit” intended to be used “exclusively for the accommodation of employees.” ELQs are proposed to be allowed in 14 zoning districts as an accessory use to a principal structure, such as a hotel or other business, to house that business’s own employees.
SAs are furnished rooms with shared kitchens for rent for periods of more than 30 days. Also intended for seasonal employees, “the makeup of the occupants is determined by the landlord, property manager, or other third party,” the draft proposal states. They are currently proposed to be allowed in eight zoning districts, and will be subject to Design Review Board approval.
The final proposed LUO change is to amend the Shoreland General Devlopment II and Hulls Cove Business District boundary lines, and add cabins and campgrounds as allowed uses. This LUO amendment was proposed by landscape architect Perry Moore on behalf of applicant Holiday Associates of Naples, one of the names that hotel company Ocean Properties does business under.
According to Moore, this proposed LUO would benefit the Hulls Cove area by allowing current nonconforming cabins to come into compliance, and increase potential customers to Hulls Cove businesses.
It would also allow the applicant to possibly add cabins and a campground to a current hotel complex with approval.
“This is initiated by the property owner,” Gagnon told town councilors at a Dec. 17 meeting. “We [in the planning department] are involved in putting the notice out, but this is not an initiative that is from staff.”
According to a staff report prepared on Nov. 27 after reviewing the LUO amendment proposal, “staff is generally supportive of this concept and what the applicant is proposing, but believes that more work is needed to fine-tune certain details.”
Once concern brought up by town staff was that cabins are not currently defined in the LUO. “Either define it or consider using a comparable term already defined in the ordinance,” the staff report suggested.