May 20, 2018
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Bar Harbor residents to elect officials, vote on land use amendments

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Local voters are expected to go to the polls Tuesday, June 14, to elect at least one new town councilor and to consider several proposed land use ordinance amendments.

Polls will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Municipal Building on Cottage Street.

Seven candidates are running for three available council seats. Incumbents Ruth Eveland and Vernon “Sandy” McFarland are running for re-election, but Town Councilor Rob Jordan has decided not to run again. Jordan instead is challenging Shelley Mitchell for her position in contest for the only available seat on the Mount Desert Island School District Board of Trustees.

Besides Eveland and McFarland, also running for Town Council are Barbara Fenderson, Robert Garland, Vicki Hall, Michael McCadden and Christopher Walsh.

Brian Hubbell and Claire Sasner are running unopposed for the two available seats on the Superintending School Committee.

Voters also will consider several proposed amendments to the town’s land use ordinance, including whether to eliminate local restrictions on weekly rentals in residential districts, which were adopted in 2006.

Supporters of the restrictions have said they help preserve year-round neighborhoods and ensure such rental properties meet safety standards, but opponents have said the restrictions are unnecessary and discriminate against property owners in neighborhoods where they are not allowed. There have been several legal challenges to the town’s current weekly rental ordinance that have cost the town several thousand dollars.

Another proposed amendment would, for the purposes of promoting agricultural tourism, allow accessory uses at properties zoned for agriculture production. Some residents have warned that adopting this amendment could open up rural parts of town to tourist development, but others have said it simply would allow additional minor uses such as lodging or dining at properties where agriculture would remain the primary use.

Other proposals would amend the definition of kennels; include campgrounds in the town’s definition of transient accommodations; allow accessory dwellings on residential lots; and permit the planning board to extend deadlines for starting construction on approved projects.

Last week, voters met during the open session of the town meeting and approved municipal and education budgets totaling $14.4 million. Of that amount, $9.4 million is budgeted for noneducation municipal expenditures and $5 million is for education expenses.

Voters also agreed last week to borrow up to nearly $4.3 million for water and sewer improvements, and to use $30,000 of money collected in cruise ship fees to conduct a watershed study of Northeast Creek.

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