To the Editor:
Should Bar Harbor become like Bayonne, N.J., a mega cruise ship terminal?
This is the essence of the decision voters will make on June 13 when they vote for or against Article 12, “Shoreland Marine Activities District,” and Article 13, “Citizens’ Initiative.”
At the town-sponsored cruise ship forum in March, town officials invited a representative from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship line to talk about what building a cruise ship terminal and docking pier infrastructure would offer Bar Harbor.
This Royal Caribbean representative talked about the Cape Liberty cruise ship port in Bayonne. He praised its appearance and described it as nice.
It is not so nice, particularly when one compares it to the Bar Harbor waterfront, Frenchman Bay and Acadia National Park.
What can we do to prevent our beloved community and island from becoming Bayonne?
Bar Harbor voters can vote “Yes” for Article 13, which will put length limits (300 feet max) on the size of cruise ships that can dock in town that only the voters can change. Think about two cruise ships almost 1,200 feet long and over 200 feet high docked at our shore and towering over buildings in town.
Article 12 sets no limits on pier infrastructure size.
Article 13 also adopts the cruise ship passenger caps the council chose some time ago, while Article 12 imposes no cruise ship passenger caps.
Article 13 gives Bar Harbor voters a voice and a vote on increasing the passenger caps, which now can be changed by the vote of just four councilors.
The most representative committee in Bar Harbor, the Warrant Committee, voted 14-5 to endorse Article 13 and 17-3 against Article 12.
Article 13 preserves the balance between successful cruise ship tourism and our charming village and town. Key West found that placing limits on cruise ship tourism helped bring weekly and monthly visitors back to a place they had begun to avoid.
Whoever owns the ferry terminal site and no matter how that site might be rezoned, Article 13 will work harmoniously and legally with those changes.
Nonlawyers have claimed otherwise, saying Article 13 “bans” cruise ships simply because it places sensible limits on length. Two lawyers who are intimately familiar with Bar Harbor’s land use ordinance, William Dale of Portland and my husband, Arthur Greif, of Bar Harbor, have offered formal written opinions that Article 13 complies with Maine law and would not conflict with Article 12, if it passed.
No lawyer for the town has written an opinion disagreeing with these two written opinions, although town attorney Ed Bearor has been invited by Greif to do so.
Do Bar Harbor voters wish to stand by helplessly and watch Bar Harbor become Bayonne, N.J.?
Article 13 allows the construction of a modest cruise ship pier at the ferry terminal, as well as all the other uses currently permitted there such as a marina, a ferry terminal and a commercial fish pier. Article 12 could make unavoidable a mega cruise ship pier. Article 13 allows voters to make sure we have a better pier, not just an immensely bigger pier.