To the Editor:
On June 9, Bar Harbor residents will vote on three Land Use Articles: Article 2, the “Repeal and Replacement of the Bar Harbor Land Use Ordinance” (LUO), and articles 3 & 4, questions on public utility facility and public utility installation. We urge you to Vote “yes” on 2 to move the town forward and on a path to improving the Land Use Ordinance (LUO). And we urge residents to vote “no” on 3 and 4 to prevent confusion in the ordinance.
Several years ago, the town council funded work for the planning department to implement the goals of the 2007 comprehensive plan that dealt with the LUO. This first phase was intended to reorganize the ordinance in a more efficient layout, remove ambiguities and errors, and streamline the permitting process.
As business owners and lifelong residents of Bar Harbor, we want to see the town grow and prosper. One of the ways to reach that goal is to make the Land Use Ordinance more user-friendly and more predictable for applicants by reducing the number of districts, improving the sections on housing and parking, making the permitting process easier to follow and clearly show what the applicant can expect. But before that can be done, this first phase must be approved.
The most notable change that will take effect if LUO amendments are passed is the removal of Appendix C. By moving the uses into the text, the confusing sheet of columns and boxes in the back of the ordinance will be eliminated.
Each district will have a color map to clearly delineate its boundaries and a list of applicable uses. This will make it easier for the applicants (readers) to understand what can and cannot be done in a district.
The changes in the new ordinance should not impact current uses.
Also of note is the completeness review process, which will be done at the staff level, saving at least a month of time for the applicant and a meeting in front of the planning board. The completeness review is a checklist to make sure the application is ready for board consideration.
To improve consistency, the road and street standards will be the same as those used by the Maine Department of Transportation
One important omission that will be corrected is to put back single family and two family dwellings in the Downtown Village District. In the current LUO, they are not a permitted use, nor can a home be expanded.
Articles 3 and 4 are amendment proposals to the Land Use Ordinance by petitions that would restrict future public facility installations.
The amendments could hamper efforts to provide utilities to customers.
Bar Harbor is our lifelong home. We plan to stay here and hope that our children and grandchildren are able to live, work and play in this beautiful place. In recent years, there has been slow growth and frustration over the permitting process. It is a very time consuming, complex and expensive process. An ordinance that is understandable, fair to residents and business owners and protects the community resources and environment will go a long way towards making Bar Harbor a prosperous and business friendly community. Vote “yes,” and then “no” and “no” on June 9.