BAR HARBOR — The Town Council at its meeting on Tuesday scheduled a public hearing for July 19 to discuss the citizen’s petition aimed at capping the number of passengers disembarking from cruise ships.
This hearing is the next step in the process after the group of petitioners presented the citizen’s initiative to Town Clerk Liz Graves with the signatures – at least 300 – required to put the initiative up for a vote. The initiative will be on the Nov. 1 town meeting warrant.
The proposal, led by Charles Sidman with support from a number of Bar Harbor residents, seeks to change the language of a land use ordinance amendment to limit the number of passengers from cruise ships to no more than 1,000 per day. As it stands now, 5,500 passengers are allowed to visit per day for May, June, September and October, with 3,500 passengers per day for July and August.
If the measure succeeds, the harbormaster and code enforcement officer would establish a new process for issuing and regulating permits to property owners seeking to allow citizens to disembark. The harbormaster would develop a new reservation system for cruise ships that transport passengers into town and a tracking system to count those disembarking.
The code enforcement officer would ensure these new policies and issue violations as necessary. Property owners failing to meet these restrictions would have to pay $100 for each additional passenger exceeding the allowed limit.
According to the petitioners, “the large number of passengers (disembarking) have overwhelmed the downtown area, resulting in excessive congestion and traffic… which result in a diminished quality of lids for Town residents.”