Zoning rewrite draws fire

BAR HARBOR — Opponents of the land use ordinance repeal and replacement that will come before voters at town meeting in June dominated the public hearing on the matter Tuesday. They condemned the document as everything from badly flawed to full of deception and lies.

Key players in the successful 2010 “Appendix C” zoning lawsuit against the town were central to Tuesday night’s protests, with others stating that this could lead to another trip to court.

In the most theatrical display of opposition, Dessa Dancy piled one large binder after another on a table to show how difficult it has been to track the changes made to the ordinance since the rewrite drafting process began in 2012.

“I’m telling you, we have spent hundreds of hours going through each of these … you have no way of knowing what’s changed from here to here to here,” she said. “I haven’t even begun to tell you what’s wrong with this, but, the biggest thing … is it’s riddled with deception and white lies that are coming from town officials.”

Dancy’s comments were echoed by others, who all expressed a lack of trust in town officials and the way the ordinance rewrite is being described. Even while interim town planner Angela Chamberlain began the hearing by presenting what she said were all of the key proposed changes in the ordinance, opponents said they could have no way of knowing what was actually in the document.

“It saddens me that I, as a voter, cannot go through that document that’s three inches and know, is there things in this document that I approve of, is there things that I don’t approve of. That’s a full-time job. It shouldn’t be,” Dennis Bracale said. “Angie has outlined a lot of [the changes]. She’s given them at these meetings. But to go back and for me to say how these change, every single one of them, all the way through, or know that there’s nothing else changed in here is impossible.”

Bracale was the plaintiff in the successful 2010 “Appendix C” lawsuit and was supported in his work on the issue by Dancy, her husband, Jake Jagel, and others.

Jagel also condemned the proposed new LUO Tuesday.

Town councilor Gary Friedmann expressed dismay and outright upset over the accusations that town officials were lying, untrustworthy and leading citizens down the wrong road.

“I understand that people are frustrated. But I’m not going to sit here and listen to people say that members of our town staff or our town boards have been deceptive or lied. Because that’s never been true,” he said. “I want people to be treating each other with respect and with trust. Because I think that this group here on the council deserves your trust, as does the planning board, as does the town staff.”

Just one citizen stood to speak in favor of the ordinance redo. Former town councilor Bob Garland offered that there likely would be things wrong with the document, but that the process of amending it as those errors were discovered likely would work very well.

“I find it hard to believe that the forethought of deception has occurred. And this has been in process for quite some time now. I’m going to encourage people to vote for this land use ordinance rewrite with the full knowledge that there is another phase coming along,” he said.

Councilor David Bowden encouraged citizens to get educated about the benefits of the LUO rewrite and to vote in favor of it when they go to the polls in June.

“I really encourage the public … to educate yourself on this land use rewrite. I really think we need to get this step done so we can move forward with other steps. If we stall, it’s really going to be detrimental to the people who want to improve things.”

Both the planning board and the warrant committee have recommended adoption of the LUO repeal and replacement. The planning board was unanimous in their recommendation with a 3-0 vote, while the warrant committee voted 12-5 in favor. The issue will come before voters at town elections on June 9. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. upstairs in the municipal building.

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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