Agriculture Plan Panned

BAR HARBOR — The pros and cons of rule changes that would allow restaurants and lodgings on agricultural properties were debated by several people at a public hearing before the town council on Tuesday. The agriculture rules will be on the June town election ballot, along with amendments related to weekly rentals, accessory dwellings and other uses. The polls will be open on Tuesday, June 14 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the municipal building on Cottage Street.

Several speakers on Tuesday, including Jake Jagel, Robert Phipps and Dessa Dancy, stated emphatically that the proposed agri-tourism rules were too broad in their application and that if enacted could ruin the quality of life in much of the outlying areas of town.

“This article is still in the planning stages. There are a lot of problems that are going to come up with this article if it passes,” Mr. Jagel said. He conjured pictures of hog farms, properties covered with hoop houses, and hotels and conference centers springing up all over town with the passage of the proposed ordinance.

Gary Friedmann, however, who along with his wife Glennon is managing a new farming business on Norway Drive, said that those fears were overblown. The intent of the ordinance is to encourage agricultural practices, not create factory farms or allow commercial businesses to spring up without limit, he said.

“We’re not going to be seeing hog lots … in Bar Harbor,” he said. “While there may be some problems with this ordinance, the ordinance is really timely.”

Other changes that voters will weigh in on next month received relatively little attention at the hearing. Articles changing the rules for dog kennels, campgrounds and construction deadlines gained no comments. An article that would remove nearly all of the regulations around weekly vacation rentals also received little attention, with just one resident recommending against passage.

Several in attendance did comment on the proposed rule change to accessory dwellings, which would allow construction of such a dwelling in most districts, regardless of minimum area per family requirements. Setback, lot coverage and septic and water supply rules would still apply.

The proposal was criticized by those who spoke, who said that it would increase density in outlying districts, which is contrary to the direction outlined in the comprehensive plan.

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Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]