Yes, No, No

In town meeting balloting on June 9, Bar Harbor voters will be asked to rule on three questions concerning the local zoning ordinance.

Question 2 asks if voters will approve the repeal and replacement of the town’s zoning ordinance. Questions 3 and 4 deal with amendments to substation rules placed on the ballot by citizen petition.

The repeal and replacement deserves full and robust support. Critics urging rejection of that question have argued steadfastly, with a whiff condescension, that the ordinance is far too confusing to be understood by the average person. Unfortunately, most zoning laws are complex, and necessarily so, considering the formidable efforts that often go into circumventing them.

It is not necessary, however, that every citizen be intimately familiar with every nuance of the law. But folks attempting to discern a course of action with respect to their own property should be able to navigate the rules, with some degree of confidence, to gain a clear understanding of what is, or is not, allowed.

In that regard, the rewrite is vastly superior to the old language.

Opponents repeatedly have employed vague terms in urging rejection, while providing few specifics to support their position. Throughout the three-year process to get to this point, there have been ample opportunities for those with legitimate concerns to specify problems and offer forthright potential solutions. Dropping large binders of paperwork on desks at public hearings might make for good theatrics but does nothing to advance the process, in a constructive way. Hinting that a lawsuit may be in the offing, without offering helpful detailed fixes, portends a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Granted, the inept handling of several amendments presented in the past has done little to instill confidence in residents that officials finally have a good grasp of the situation. But staff, the town council and the planning board have worked diligently to make things right, even though postponing a previously scheduled vote was politically embarrassing. Throughout the rewrite process, there has been no hidden agenda. There is no cabal of clandestine developers waiting in the shadows for this to pass.

Questions 3 and 4 on the June 9 ballot should be rejected.

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