Bar Harbor voters weigh moratorium, weekly rental rules for seasonal units

Posted June 04, 2009, at 8:49 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:07 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Voters are expected to consider whether to enact a development moratorium for the village of Town Hill and to elect at least one new town councilor when annual municipal elections are held June 9.

Residents also will consider whether to adopt two proposed zoning ordinance changes and to validate last Tuesday’s local school budget vote. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, at the Municipal Building on Cottage Street.

The moratorium referendum was placed on the ballot by citizens initiative after a group of residents became concerned about a proposal from Hannaford Bros. to build a new supermarket in Town Hill. The 34,000-square-foot store would be built on a 15-acre parcel occupied by Aquarius Artifacts, an antiques business.

Residents who signed a petition to vote on the moratorium have cited two concerns publicly about the Hannaford proposal. Some say a large store such as a supermarket would be out of character with the surrounding Town Hill village, while others say the village’s zoning ordinances should be made consistent with Bar Harbor’s recently updated comprehensive plan before the supermarket plan is submitted to the planning board.

Other residents have welcomed Hannaford’s plans to build a supermarket in Town Hill and say a six-month moratorium is unwarranted. The moratorium would affect all proposals for commercial buildings 10,000 square feet or larger in the Town Hill business district.

In elections, five people are competing for two available seats on the Town Council. Councilor Bob Garland has decided not to seek re-election, but Councilor Julia Schloss is running again. Jane Disney, Christopher Maller, James Riley Jr. and Peter St. Germain also are vying for the two openings.

In the single school committee race, Matthew McEachern is challenging incumbent board member Paul Murphy.

The proposed ordinance changes would affect the town’s restrictions on renting residential properties by the week, and the jurisdiction of the town’s design review board. One proposed amendment is meant to clarify the town’s weekly rental ordinance, while the other is meant to expand the design review board’s jurisdiction to include parts of town outside the downtown business district, according to explanations provided in the town meeting warrant.

The school budget validation vote, which is required by state law, would reaffirm the vote at the June 2 open session of Bar Harbor’s annual town meeting to approve a $4.78 million 2009-2010 budget for local elementary and middle school operations.

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