Viewpoint: Why we asked for Article 3

By Anthony Zambrano and Michael Tadenev


When Bar Harbor voters go to the polls in November they will find a local ballot question, Article 3, proposing a land use ordinance amendment regarding the Town Hill Rural and Town Hill Residential zoning districts. Article 3 proposes a slight extension to the Town Hill Rural district, and we are hoping that voters will approve of such a change.

Article 3 has been created specifically for our property at 1200 Route 3, where Downeast Horizons has operated a facility to serve developmentally disabled individuals for nearly 30 years. Currently, as the MDI Center, the facility hosts day programs for adults and children, as well as agency gatherings.

We have no big plans for change on the property; all we are looking to do is expand our common room at the MDI Center so we can fit people more comfortably at gatherings there. This would involve building a 1,500-square-foot addition onto the approximately 12,000-square-foot building. It’s a relatively small project, but one that would have great impact on the quality of the services we provide.

The MDI Center property is in two land-use zones — Town Hill Rural and Town Hill Residential — and because of the configuration of the zoning boundaries, the building is considered nonconforming to zoning regulations. It is because of this nonconforming designation that we are asking Bar Harbor voters to approve Article 3. This modest zoning change would enable us to build the addition onto the MDI Center.

There are more benefits to the proposed addition than better gatherings for Downeast Horizons. For the past 10 years, MDI Search and Rescue has used the common room at the MDI Center for weekend trainings. This important volunteer organization will surely benefit from the extra space. At the same time, the building is considered an official evacuation center for the town, and while we hope it is never needed that way, it would be reassuring to know that we had that much more space to offer.

We love being part of the Bar Harbor community and look forward to many more years of providing services at the MDI Center. We hope that Bar Harbor voters will follow the unanimous recommendations of the planning board and warrant committee and vote in favor of Article 3 when they go to the polls in November.

Anthony Zambrano is executive director of Downeast Horizons. Michael Tadenev serves on the organization’s Board of Directors.

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