Unintended consequences

To the Editor:

On June 9, Bar Harbor voters will have several land use changes before them that will have great impacts on Emera Maine’s ability to deliver reliable power to Bar Harbor.

Article 2, the land use ordinance (LUO) revision and replacement, was drafted by the planning board and includes language which requires public review for any utility use covering more than 2,000 square feet. If approved, this new process will prevent the recent Woodbury Substation fiasco from happening again and send any proposed substation to the planning board where it belongs.

While drafting the substation language, the planning board carefully reviewed each zoning district and examined how the draft language would impact each neighborhood over the course of many public meetings. Article 2 is a well thought out plan for all of Bar Harbor and is a good deal.

Articles 3 and 4, submitted by petition, are bad deals. They are well written for one neighborhood, but poor policy for the town. Regardless of the stated intent, the proposed language is a death sentence for all public utilities in Bar Harbor.

Because they were racing to beat Emera’s permitting schedule, they didn’t take enough time to consider the ripple effects of their language or fact check the proposals for errors. As a result, Articles 3 and 4 are riddled with mistakes which will create tremendous problems for the town.

Although the town council tried to schedule this in November to allow time for proper review, a process that may have allowed the many errors to be realized and corrected, that was not good enough.

If articles three and four pass, connecting to any utility service from Sonogee to the YMCA would become illegal. The drafters defined “Public Utility Installation” as a use but forgot to add the use as allowed in both Downtown Village districts and the Bar Harbor Gateway district.

If Articles 3 and 3 pass, it will be illegal for anyone downtown to connect to electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable television.

Articles 3 and 3 do not stop at substations. Almost all of the existing utility services and facilities in town would become illegal non-conformities. This includes the town sewer plant, lift stations, water facility and the many communication facilities around town. If they become non-conforming, they cannot expand to accommodate growth in Bar Harbor. Because Articles 3 and 4 outlaws all PUC regulated services in just about every district in town, future sites for any additional services would not be allowed.

Emera has spent the past 10 months working with a committee on the best place and design for a new substation. The result of that work is a proposal for a concealed and landscaped design on Prospect Avenue. The selected Prospect site is not protected at all from articles 3 and 4.

If articles 3 and 4 pass, it will be impossible for Emera to obtain a permit for a substation in this town. This is likely by design. Nothing good will come out of this.

Article 2 is done the right way for Bar Harbor and should pass.

Article 3 and4 are bad deals and should be rejected.

Eben Salvatore

Bar Harbor

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