To the Editor:
Bar Harbor voters need to know that many changes are not marked in the “Highlighted Land Use Ordinance” and that this is not the version up for consideration on June 9.
Voters also need to understand that it’s not possible to know what changes have been made by simply reading either version of the proposed LUO replacement however many times anyone reads it.
The only way a voter can know what is changed in the “clean” version is to compare each line of this 497 page version with our existing 233 page land use ordinance.
Complicating any attempt to compare these two documents is the fact that revised LUO versions on the town website are not searchable. The not-user-friendly table of contents omits critical information. There is no index, and mis-numbered pages are used instead of standard legal pagination with section numbering.
Trying to find specific information is an exasperating experience.
Comparing these two documents requires many, many frustrating hours, and I know of no one who has been able to complete this most basic, but critical task.
We also are not able to rely on the town’s explanations of proposed changes because these contain serious omissions and very misleading information.
The repeated claim that this is the new LUO “just formatting” and there are no substantive changes is not true. The claim that the entire LUO has been “reorganized” is not true. The claim that to fix some things, we have to repeal the entire LUO is not true. Nor is the claim that this “has to pass” before we can move forward with other changes.
Repeated references to implementing the goals of the 2007 Comprehensive Plan are seriously misleading. The fact that this proposed LUO replacement is not consistent with the comprehensive plan violates state law.
The greatest wrong of all is the town’s failure to create a document that voters can read and understand what changes are actually being proposed. All changes in this proposed LUO replacement can be, and should have been, presented in smaller warrant articles that citizens can easily understand and vote to support or not. This all-or-nothing, top-down “Just trust us. We know best” attempt to repeal our Land Use Ordinance and replace it all with a mammoth, unmarked version is counter to a fundamental law – only the voters have the power to change zoning.
This can only be done wisely with accurate information about what is to be changed.
This massive LUO replacement contains substantive changes that have not been properly noticed or explained. Legal processes have been ignored. It is unreasonable and insulting to expect voters to repeal our entire LUO and replace it with no changes marked.
Vote “no” on article 2, the proposed repeal and replacement of the entire LUO.