To the Editor: Doing the right thing 

To the Editor: 

I am a civil rights attorney who has studied admiralty law, litigated admiralty cases in the federal court, extensively briefed the obligations of contracts clause of the Constitution and litigated many constitutional claims in state and federal court. I read with interest Ethan Genter’s article in the Aug. 26 Islander regarding cruise ships in Bar Harbor.  

The town of Bar Harbor should base any regulation of cruise ships on its unquestioned authority to control the land-based effects of cruise visitation: overcrowding of streets and sidewalks, risks of pandemic from infected passengers, overworking police, fire and medical personnel, etc. Regulations based on what the courts generally call the “police power” of towns is on solid footing. The “taking” claims the cruise ship industry is threatening have no basis in law as it owns no property in Bar Harbor. Nor can it claim an impairment of contracts as long as the town has a reasonable basis for its actions and honors actually binding contracts.  

A reservation for future visits is not likely a binding contract; were it binding, the town could claim unpaid fees for any reservations the cruise industry has cancelled. Ocean Properties has threatened a claim for the diminished value of its pier should cruise visitation be significantly limited. That is a tough claim to win and Ocean Properties has the burden of proof on that claim. The town has insurance coverage for such a claim, which would pay defense costs and damages in the unlikely event Ocean Properties prevailed.  

Let’s not be bullied by out-of-state corporations and do the right thing by Bar Harbor.

Arthur Greif
Bar Harbor     

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