BAR HARBOR, Maine — A proposal from Hannaford Bros. Co. to build a second local supermarket has prompted a member of the Town Council to suggest a moratorium for large-scale commercial buildings in the neighborhood where the new store would go up.
Residents will have a chance to weigh in on the moratorium idea when the Town Council meets at the town office downtown at 7 tonight. The moratorium would apply to all proposed nonresidential buildings for the Town Hill business district that would be more than 1,000 square feet in size, according to a description of the proposal listed on the Town Council’s Feb. 10 meeting agenda.
Hannaford’s proposal to build the 35,000-square-foot supermarket in the village of Town Hill also will be the focus of another meeting planned for the next night. The West Eden Village Improvement Society, a Town Hill-based community group, is hosting a design charette for the neighborhood at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, at Mount Desert Island High School on Route 233.
According to Anne Krieg, planning director for Bar Harbor, representatives of Hannaford will be at the design meeting to discuss their supermarket proposal. The Wednesday meeting was moved from the VIS hall in Town Hill to the high school because of the large amount of people expected to attend, town officials have said.
Hannaford has said it hopes to build in Town Hill because it is a central location for island residents who now shop at either Hannaford’s smaller store in downtown Bar Harbor, which can be congested during the busy summer season, or its larger store in Ellsworth, which is about 10 miles off the island. Some MDI residents have expressed support for Hannaford’s plans, but others have said the size of the building will be out of character with Town Hill’s small-village atmosphere.
Julia Schloss, the Bar Harbor town councilor who had the moratorium proposal placed on the council’s agenda for tonight, said Monday that the moratorium likely would be for 180 days, at least initially. It could later be reduced or extended depending on the council’s wishes, she said.
The purpose of the moratorium would be to give town officials and residents time to update the land-use zoning ordinances for Town Hill so that they are consistent with the town’s recently updated comprehensive plan, according to Schloss. Bar Harbor officials have said that Town Hill has been at the top of their list for updating local zoning ordinances, even before Hannaford announced its plans.
“The idea is to get [the comprehensive plan] in place before we deal with this,” Schloss said. “We’ll see how it turns out.”