Trial set to start Tuesday in Bar Harbor zoning lawsuit

Posted July 23, 2012, at 8:21 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — A civil lawsuit filed against the town in December 2010 is headed to trial this week in Bangor, according to plaintiffs in the case.

The lawsuit was filed by several Bar Harbor residents over zoning changes that were approved at referendums in June and November of 2010. Portland attorney William Dale is representing the residents in the case against the town.

Dale said Monday that the lawsuit alleges that the town did not follow proper procedures for changing the town’s zoning ordinances prior to or during the votes. One document that lists permitted uses in the town’s zones, referred to as “Appendix C,” was presented at the June 8, 2010, vote in five different versions, according to the complaint, and contains “numerous internal inconsistencies” that nonetheless were approved by voters on that date.

Dale said that some of the changes adopted at the June and November 2010 votes are neither “pursuant to nor consistent with” the town’s comprehensive plan, which is a violation of state law. For example, he said, one use that would seem to be permitted by the zoning changes is large hotels in the village of Hulls Cove, which runs counter to the town’s comprehensive plan.

Local residents who are plaintiffs in the suit are Dennis Bracale, Lois and William Frazier, Robert and Pauline Maguire, Elizabeth Mills and Julie Vehr, according to the complaint.

An attempt late Monday afternoon to contact Bar Harbor Town Manager Dana Reed about the pending trial was unsuccessful.

Dale said Monday that the trial is expected to get underway Tuesday morning at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. The bench trial, which will be decided by a judge rather than a jury, is expected to conclude sometime Thursday, he added.

A verdict, Dale said, might not be reached for several weeks after the trial ends. He said he expects the judge to ask attorneys to file briefs after testimony concludes and to take some time before arriving at a decision.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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