Members of Bar Harbor’s Warrant Committee voted last week to recommend that residents not approve a series of zoning regulations related to parking and parking garages. That recommendation will appear on the written ballot in November along with the Planning Board’s recommendation that voters approve the amendments.
The comments during a recent Warrant Committee meeting ranged from the thoughtful and measured to the preposterous and outright paranoid.
Some suggested there was some kind of conspiracy afoot to enrich commercial developers by asking leading questions better suited for late-night, conspiracy-theory radio programs dealing with extraterrestrials and Bigfoot sightings.
As seen more and more in the distressing tone and timber of the national and statewide political debates, some people seem to feel the need to insult those of opposite mind or impugn their integrity in order to take a contrary position. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they have ulterior motives or that they are uneducated on the issue at hand.
It is paramount for all those engaged in public discourse, especially at the local level, not to allow debate to veer into the realm of character assassination or worse.
One thing the vote of the Warrant Committee last week did point out is that the decision earlier this year to combine all the proposed changes across multiple districts into a single question may not have been the wisest course of action.
Key in the minds of voters is the ability to weigh in on which districts should or should not allow parking garages. Lumping them all together in a single ballot question runs the very real risk that allowing garages in some districts where the idea is not controversial will be rejected along with the others. For instance, voters might not oppose changes that would facilitate a parking structure at the Jackson Lab while a similar project downtown might not enjoy the same level of support.
There is still time for the Town Council to change how the items will ultimately appear on the ballot.