June 24, 2018
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Bar Harbor rejects cell tower zoning changes

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of three out of four proposed land use ordinance changes on Tuesday.

The fourth, to amend the town’s wireless facilities ordinance, was rejected by a 1,141 to 443 vote.

There were no other municipal elections or referendums on the Bar Harbor ballot.

The proposed change to the town’s wireless facilities ordinance would have granted the planning board greater discretion when reviewing wireless facilities development applications, according to an official summary of the proposed ordinance changes that the town posted on its website. By making such facilities allowable under the town’s conditional use permit process, the planning board would have been able to impose site-specific setback requirements on communications towers.

The amendment would have eliminated the town’s required setback from schools. This in turn would have made wireless communications towers an allowed use on school grounds as long as they were within site-specific setbacks imposed by the planning board, according to the town’s official summary.

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

A proposed amendment that was approved Tuesday is an exemption for 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. Facade colors, sign replacements, sandwich boards and retractable awnings are among the items that were exempted by the approved amendment, which passed by a vote of 1,215 to 367.

Voters also approved, by a 1,234 to 345 vote, making some existing shorefront uses in the village of Salisbury Cove conforming.

Another amendment that voters approved will 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. That amendment passed with 1,326 voters in favor and 325 opposed.

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