Zoning reorganization is on track for fall vote

BAR HARBOR — A complete reorganization of the land use ordinance (LUO) designed to omit inconsistencies and create more efficient processes is again on track for a town meeting vote, this time in November.

The planning board voted unanimously June 18 to recommend putting the LUO “repeal and replace” on the November town meeting warrant despite vehement protests from several citizen activists who seemed determined to push the project off to next spring or beyond.

The project to repeal and replace the LUO has been in the works since 2010, when former town planner Anne Krieg contracted with attorney Mary Denison for the job. It was to be completed by 2012, but was significantly delayed when Krieg left her position in 2011. The project had most recently been on track for a vote this spring, but was again delayed when several errors were discovered.

Town officials have stated since the inception of the project that the new LUO should create no changes to actual zones and do nothing that could affect particular properties. As described by Denison last week, the project takes direction from the 2007 comprehensive plan, which contained the goal of simplifying the LUO and streamlining development procedures.

One of the biggest changes in the proposal is the elimination of the Appendix C table of uses and the incorporation of the appendix’s information into individual sections covering each zone. Under the current rules, anyone trying to discern if a use is allowed is required to flip back and forth between the table and a separate key to symbols, a list of definitions and the basic restrictions in that zone.

The proposed new LUO had been on track for a vote at town meeting this month. However, when members of the warrant committee reviewed the document this spring, they discovered that in eliminating Appendix C, Denison had inadvertently added new uses into some of the zoning districts.

When this was discovered, town councilors pulled the document from the June warrant. Denison and town interim planner Angela Chamberlain have worked on the document since, and the fixed, finalized version was presented to the planning board and the public on June 18.

Several of the same people who discovered the problems this spring, however, put up a major protest during the public hearing portion of the board meeting, stating that there are too many changes for voters to comprehend at once.

Planning board members voted 4-0 to recommend that the council place the article on the November town meeting warrant.

The proposed new LUO can be viewed online at www.BarHarborMaine.gov, or in hard copy at the town planning office and at the Jesup Memorial Library.

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Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]
Robert Levin

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