June 24, 2018
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Bar Harbor to weigh land use proposals on Election Day

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Local voters will consider four proposed amendments to the town’s land use ordinance when they go to the polls next week for the statewide election.

Questions concerning wireless communication facilities, design review board jurisdiction, shoreland development and the process by which public hearings are held when enacting local ordinances all will be on the local ballot.

Polls in Bar Harbor will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the municipal building on Cottage Street.

According to an official summary of the proposed amendments, approved last month by the elected Town Council, the wireless communications facilities would be amended to allow the planning board greater discretion when reviewing development applications. By making such facilities allowable under the town’s conditional use permit process, the board could impose site-specific setback requirements on communications towers.

The amendment would eliminate the town’s required setback from schools, which would make wireless communications towers an allowed use on school grounds as long as they are within whatever site-specific setbacks may be imposed by the planning board upon approval, according to the town’s official summary.

The amendment also would replace specific references to Acadia National Park in the existing ordinance with the phrase “designated scenic resource,” which would apply to the park and other such locales. Applicants also would have to conduct a “thorough analysis” of whether other technologies could provide the same service as any proposed tower.

According to a copy of the town’s official ballot, both the planning board and the town’s warrant committee recommend that voters reject this proposed ordinance amendment.

Voters also will be asked to consider whether to exempt some types of projects from approval by the town’s Design Review Board, which has to approve some aesthetic building modifications in the town’s village areas, according to the summary. Facade colors, sign replacements, sandwich boards and retractable awnings are among the items that would be affected if the proposal is approved by voters.

Voters also will be asked to make some existing shorefront uses in the village of Salisbury Cove conforming, according to the summary. Another proposed amendment would make sure that the planning board and elected Town Council each hold an additional public hearing on proposed land use ordinance amendments before having those amendments considered by voters.

The town’s planning board and warrant committees each unanimously recommend passage of the amendments that would affect the design review board, shoreland uses in Salisbury Cove, and public hearings on land use changes.

Information on the recommended ordinance amendments, including the official summary and the exact proposed wording changes, are available on the town’s official website at www.barharbormaine.gov.

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