Commentary: Vote to protect our neighborhoods 



By Dennis Bracale 

On July 14, voters will be asked to approve six Land Use Ordinances in Bar Harbor. I believe that four of these should be voted down. Article 3 removes meaningful public notice. Articles 4 and 5 provide for largescale employee housing in residential districts. Article 6, submitted by Ocean Properties, adds hotels and many uses that are currently not allowed in Hulls Cove.  

In 2010, the Town of Bar Harbor initiated the largest change to the LUO in town history. It included so many mistakes that a number of citizens, myself included, brought a lawsuit against the town. Justice Murray, in an unprecedented decision, nullified the peoples vote and overturned most of what was voted on, including sweeping changes to what was allowed in the Town of Hulls Cove. Most disturbing was the addition of unlimitedsized hotels being added in an appendix that also allowed hundreds of other uses that were added without public discussion. During the trial, the then chair of the Planning Board would say that she didn’t even know hotels were added.  

Today we are being asked to again add hotels and accessories to Hulls Cove by changing the LUO. It is significant that Justice Murray, in addition to determining that the town had failed to provide proper notification, also found the addition of hotels in Hulls Cove to be inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan:  

“With respect to those portions of Article 3 on the June 2010 ballot that relate to hotels, motels and B&B’s in Hulls Cove, even if the notice of the Planning Board hearing was adequate, the court would declare that such portions of Article 3 are inconsistent with the town’s CP and are null and void and of no effect.”  

The Comprehensive Plan for Hulls Cove states: “Existing nonresidential uses that are not necessarily neighborhood oriented, particularly those along Route 3, shall continue to be allowed, but may only undertake limited expansion as part of the overall renovation and maintenance necessary to allow for continued economic operation of the properties. 

For similar reasons, Article 4, “Employee Living Quarters,” and Article 5, “Shared Accommodations,” would add entirely new commercial uses in two Hulls Cove districts. These new uses are not “smallscale neighborhoodoriented” uses specified in our CP. Besides the legality issue in Hulls Cove, I do not believe these ordinances are appropriate for any of Bar Harbor’s residential districts. But it really doesn’t matter what I think because what the citizens wanted their town to become is recorded in the Comprehensive Plan, which states:  

   

 “It is the policy of the Town of Bar Harbor to guide public and private land use decisions in accordance with state law and the wishes of the citizens of Bar Harbor as set forth in the Bar Harbor Comprehensive Plan, and to preserve, enhance and protect the character of the Town, the social way of life desired for the next 20 years and the cultural, historic and natural resources of Bar Harbor. 

 

Dennis Bracale is a garden designer and historian. Since 1986, his residence and work have been located in Bar Harbor. 

 

 

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