To the Editor:
I am writing to ask people to vote “yes” on Article 13 on June 13. This is a contentious topic in our community. I support Article 13 because it will maintains the current cruise ship usage of our waters while giving the voters of Bar Harbor control over future changes to caps.
I think the 300-foot limit on the size of cruise ships that can dock, or berth, in Bar Harbor, according to Article 13, is important because there are parties in our town and the state of Maine that want a major cruise ship port developed at the former ferry terminal property.
Ed Bearor, the Bar Harbor town attorney, wrote, in part, in a May 23, 2017, letter to Cornell Knight:
“As you know, the state of Maine and the town of Bar Harbor have recently entered into an option agreement which contemplates that the town of Bar Harbor will purchase the land, together with buildings and improvements thereon commonly known as the Bar Harbor ferry terminal located at 121 Eden St.
“The state of Maine has conditioned this option upon an affirmative vote against what it refers to as ‘the cruise ship moratorium referendum commonly referred to as the Citizens Petition Land Use Ordinance,’ i.e. Amendment #13.
“As I understand it, this condition is consistent with the state’s position dating back to at least March 15, 2016, when the executive director of the Maine Port Authority sent a letter to the town explaining that use of the property as a cruise ship berthing port was not negotiable.”
Specifically, the letter reads:
“As you know, the Department of Transportation and the Maine Port Authority have long viewed the terminal as a logical location for not only the resumption of the ferry terminal service in Bar Harbor, but also the appropriate facility to berth cruise ships visiting Bar Harbor … .
“It is my understanding that, with the state’s unambiguous position in mind, and with an intention of serving the cruise ship industry, the Town Council instructed the Planning Board to review and recommend an amendment to the shoreline zoning provisions of the land use ordinance which would allow for the development of a passenger terminal and berthing facility for cruise ships.”
I worry about the phrase “With an intention of serving the cruise ship industry.”
Have we, the voters, been asked for our opinions about this “intention of serving the cruise ship industry” in the past five years? Have there been any public hearings on this matter?
I do not think our town needs to serve the cruise ship industry. I think the cruise ship industry needs to serve the needs of our community. As Darron Collins, president of COA, said, “We hold the reins and need to have the courage to tell the cruise ship industry about our expectations, not the other way around.”
Voting “Yes” on Article 13 will give the voters of Bar Harbor the final say about cruise ship port development in the town of Bar Harbor.