BAR HARBOR — A Town Hill landowner will be allowed to build a dead-end, gravel road more than a mile in length in exchange for limiting future development on his land.
Shep Harris has the approval of the planning board for his West Side Access Road, which will run from near Indian Point Road to access more than 330 acres of undeveloped land owned by the Harris Family. The planning board granted Harris modifications of standards for the project. The land use ordinance does not allow dead end roads longer than 2,000 feet in length, nor does it allow dead-end roads in developments with 15 or more lots.
As part of an agreement constructed with the planning board, development of the 330 acres accessed by the road will be limited to just 34 lots in the future. As there is no subdivision application on the table presently, the planning board’s approval was contingent on a set of road covenants outlining the development restrictions. As designed by town attorney Rob Crawford, the town has an interest in the covenants. This is meant to ensure compliance in the future.
Town councilors on Tuesday accepted those covenants by a vote of 6-1, with councilor David Bowden in the minority. Councilor Gary Friedmann said that the compromise between road length and development restrictions was a good one.
“If we didn’t approve this, we’d be discouraging the thoughtful and careful development of a large area of town,” he said.
Bowden disagreed, stating that length limitations on dead-end roads exist for safety reasons, and that by accepting the covenants, councilors were helping to create an unsafe situation and potential liability.
“I can tell you, it’s poor practice to put in long roads with houses at the end with no way out,” he said. “There’s a reason I thought we had that you build an entrance or exit after 15 lots…it’s life safety.”
There are currently seven lots on the 330 acres to be served by the West Side Access Road, all owned by the Harris family. Harris first came to the planning board with plans to build a road that would run from Arrowhead Road, off Indian Point Road, all the way to Route 102. However, these plans were withdrawn after several residents of the area spoke out, stating that the use of the road as a shortcut between Indian Point Road and Route 102 would be disruptive. Public safety officials also voiced the same concern, and stated their preference that West Side Road not be a through road.
The 34-lot development restriction is set to run with the land, binding future owners to the covenants approved by councilors Tuesday.