BAR HARBOR — Proposed rules meant to improve living conditions in group housing and so called “rooming houses” will come before voters for approval at the November town meeting.
Town councilors voted 5-2 on Tuesday to place the proposed rooming house ordinance on the November ballot, following a public hearing during which nearly a dozen residents made impassioned pleas to kill the proposal.
The idea that large hoteliers should be forced to house workers on their own properties was a common thread. Liz Case referred to the so-called rooming houses as “high-density, seasonal housing for corporate institutions.” She said that there was no place in neighborhoods such as hers, on Bridge Street, for such uses.
Councilors, however, denied that the large hotels were the only businesses with seasonal workers to house. Many small businesses and restaurants also provide worker housing. In fact, the 2010 Roberts Avenue fire that sparked the creation of the rooming house ordinance originated in a house that contained restaurant workers, not workers for a large hotel, councilor Paul Paradis pointed out.
Two other ordinance changes also were moved to the ballot Tuesday, both after opposition was raised by residents. These are the rules governing sheltered care facilities and adding the definition of dormitory to the ordinance.