Task force formed to look at rental registration program, diversity task force creation tabled 

BAR HARBOR — The town has formed a task force that will help create a registration program for long-term rentals, though the Town Council and staff are growing leery about the growing list of committees and task forces.  

The council voted last week to form the Long-Term Rental Registration Task Force. Town officials raised the idea to ensure the safety of the non-vacation rental units in town.  

Currently, vacation rentals require inspections for potential fire, health and safety hazards, but there is no such system for year-round rentals.  

“Bar Harbor presently relies solely on a complaint-based type of system (neighbors and tenants) to ensure safe and adequate housing,” Code Enforcement Officer Angela Chamberlain and fire Chief Matthew Bartlett wrote in a memo previously presented to the council. “A program with systematic inspections can help ensure that the rental housing stock is maintained and that our guests and residents live in healthy conditions.” 

Now that the new task force has been created, the town is looking for volunteers. The town is looking for two landlords of long-term rentals, two tenants of long-term rentals, two town residents and one representative of the Ellsworth/Mount Desert Island Housing Authority.  

Applications can be found on the town website.  

Though there was little discussion about the creation of this task force, which is ironically only expected to be working on recommendations on a short-term basis, there was more robust debate on whether to form a task force to help the town with matters of diversity, equity and inclusion.  

“I have a concern about the proliferation of task forces in town and the implications for town staff,” said council member Jill Goldthwait. She supported the concept and said she would love to see it happen, but she said she didn’t know how long the council could go adding task forces when a good reason arises.  

Town Manager Cornell Knight said that the number of task forces in town has weighed on town staff. 

“If you approve this, you’ve got to reduce some committee or task force,” he said. 

The town’s website lists two task forces and 16 boards and committees.  

To make room for the extra workload, Knight suggested getting rid of the Parking Solutions Task Force, an idea that the council seemed mixed on. The council decided to hold off on the creation of the diversity task force for the moment but will take up the idea again at its next meeting.  

“I don’t want to keep kicking the can further and further down the road,” said council member Matthew Hochman. “I think this is vitally important.” 

Ethan Genter

Ethan Genter

Former reporter for the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander, Ethan covered maritime news and the town of Bar Harbor.

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