To the Editor:
It’s not only Bar Harbor’s Town Council that ignored mandatory legal requirements to put two citizens’ amendments on the June warrant.
At their May 6 meeting, our Planning Board also ignored mandatory legal requirements to conduct a public hearing before they vote to recommend that a proposed zoning amendment warrant article ought to be adopted or rejected. Our Land Use Ordinance also requires that notice of this hearing must be posted in the municipal office at least 13 days prior to such hearing and must also be published in a local newspaper at least two times before this hearing.
Planning Board member Joe Cough understood the seriousness of these mandatory requirements and also expressed his concerns about state law. However, attorney Rob Crawford assured the board that this situation was different. He explained that because Justice Murray had ordered the Town Council to put the citizen amendments on the June warrant, that it’s necessary to “expedite” this. The Planning Board members agreed that they did not have time to properly notify the public or have a hearing, but they decided to vote anyway.
Murray’s decision that the Bar Harbor Town Council violated mandatory legal requirements does not mention the Planning Board or otherwise indicate that mandatory requirements do not apply to Planning Board actions, as Crawford suggests.
Bar Harbor Land Use Ordinance requirements are very clear. Section 125-9.D. requires that a public hearing be held before the Planning Board votes to recommend that an amendment ought to be adopted or ought not to be adopted, and Section 125-9.C requires that legal notice be posted at least 13 days before the hearing and published at least two times in the newspaper, first published at least 12 days before the hearing and again at least 7 days before the hearing.
The Planning Board’s May 6 votes to recommend that the citizen initiative amendments “ought not to be adopted” ignored two mandatory legal requirements. There was no public notice at all, and there was no public hearing before voting. These Planning Board recommendations were made illegally and ought not to be accepted.