MDI man won’t relent in his opposition to development project

Posted April 16, 2012, at 8:07 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Greg Moore is a persistent man.

Since around 2006, the Bar Harbor resident has been a vocal opponent of proposed development on land next to a subdivision he lives in off Route 3. The property owner, local resident Bob Bond, has submitted multiple proposals over the years, each of which has met with objections from Moore.

The latest proposal is the third submitted by Bond to the town, and a meeting last week at the municipal building on Cottage Street was not the first time the town’s appeals board has convened to make a decision on it. Two years ago, a Hancock County Superior Court judge issued a ruling concerning one proposal, only to have Bond withdraw his application so he could come up with a new one that would have a better chance of approval.

But Moore, the last remaining resident of the Eden Woods subdivision that is opposed to Bond’s project, says the latest version of Bond’s application is not good enough.

“I don’t give up,” Moore said last week. “I won’t give up.”

According to Angela Chamberlain, Bar Harbor’s code enforcement officer and interim planning director, Moore has lived up to his word. Things have calmed down in the past couple of years, she said recently, but for a while they were pretty contentious.

In the early days of his opposition, four or five years ago, Moore inundated town officials with paperwork requests and emails, one of which he signed “Queequeg,” a character from the book “Moby Dick.” The animosity at one point got so bad, Chamberlain said, that Moore was asked not to attend municipal meetings on the matter and, just in case he did, town officials made sure a police officer was present.

“It’s been a burden,” she said. “For a period of time it was really bad.”

The animosity may have since ebbed, but Moore continues to challenge aspects of Bond’s proposal. Separate from what the developer is seeking approval for, Moore even has urged town officials to fix what he says are substandard conditions in the existing subdivision where he lives.

Seabury Drive, which provides access to the properties in Eden Woods, does not meet road construction standards, he has argued, and the fire pond off Seabury Drive that had been designated as a water source in the event of a fire is insufficient. In 2009, he took the town all the way to the state supreme court for failing to address these issues and lost.

In 2010, after the town approved an earlier version of Bond’s proposal, Moore took the matter to Hancock County Superior Court again and got a ruling partly in his favor. Justice Kevin Cuddy remanded the matter back to the planning board so it could clarify whether Bond’s proposal met the town’s specific street, wetland impact and fire protection standards.

Bond later withdrew that proposal and instead submitted another, also for seven lots.

Rather than providing access to all the lots from Seabury Drive, this proposal calls for accessing only one new lot from Seabury Drive and has Bond building a separate road to access the other six lots. This would resolve the issue of undue impact on Seabury Drive, Bond said.

As for the issue of fire protection, the town’s fire chief has provided a written letter to the planning board indicating that Hamilton Pond, which is more than mile away, is a suitable water supply in the event of a fire.

Moore again is challenging whether Bond’s proposal meets the town’s fire protection, road construction and wetland impact standards. Despite the fire chief’s letter, he argues, the town’s ordinance clearly states that a water source for fighting fires must be within 2,000 feet of the proposed subdivision.

Last week, the appeals board agreed with Moore on the fire pond issue. But it sided with Bond by determining that the proposed road would not have improper impact on wetlands.

The appeals board did not finish its deliberations, however, and plans to reconvene in May to complete its findings.

Bond, the developer, said last week that he thinks the matter will go back to court again. He said he does not think Moore ever will be satisfied.

“If Greg is true to form, it probably will [go back to court],” he said of the dispute. “I think he just doesn’t want [my property] to be developed, period.”

Bond said because the planning process has dragged on for so long, and because of the poor real estate market, he doesn’t think he and his business partner, Frank Moya, ever will recoup their expenses. At this point, they are hoping just to minimize their losses, he said.

“If you said six or seven years ago we’d still be doing this, I would have laughed,” Bond said.

“I didn’t really anticipate the hurdles we’ve had to jump over since we bought it. [But] we feel committed to seeing this thing through. “

Moore, who has lived on Seabury Drive since 2000, said last week that he is not opposed to the neighboring property being built, he just wants it done the right way. He said that a properly developed subdivision next to Eden Woods would improve his property value rather than harm it.

The biggest issue for him, Moore said, is how effectively firefighters can respond to a fire in Eden Woods or Bond’s proposed subdivision and how quickly neighborhood residents can get away in the event of a fire or other emergency. That’s why he would like to see a second road of egress onto Route 3 from the subdivision he lives in.

“If there’s a fire at the end of Seabury Drive, we’re trapped in here,” Moore said. “I feel this applies to the safety of my family. I can defend myself pretty good in this dispute.”

Moore said the town’s standards have changed since Seabury Drive was built in 1989, which he finds frustrating. Many of his neighbors supported his opposition to Bond’s proposal five years ago, he added, but now he is the lone objector.

Moore said that “frustration and inexperience” on his part contributed to the divisive atmosphere that hung over Bond’s proposal a few years ago. A boat carpenter by trade, he said he started taking care of his aging parents a few years ago — a development that helped teach him not to take things as personally as he once did.

Queequeg, the name of a harpooner in “Moby Dick,” was a childhood nickname of his, he said, but he now can see why his use of the name may have alarmed some people. He insists he has learned from past mistakes and has resolved to tone down his rhetoric and demands.

Moore said he has come to respect the time and effort put in by town employees and volunteers serving on its boards. He said he has resolved to keep his objections to the technical issues at hand and to stick to a “straight and narrow” approach.

“Maybe I’m mellowing with age,” Moore said.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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