Charter commission, zoning go to Bar Harbor voters

BAR HARBOR — Voters will decide on Nov. 6 whether to establish a commission to recommend changes to the town’s charter, and who would serve on that commission. A land use ordinance amendment to redraw of the boundary of the Town Hill Rural district will also be on the ballot.

Article 2 asks if voters approve the formation of a charter commission to study the town charter. The town council recommended the adoption of Article 2 by a vote of 6 to 0, but the warrant committee recommended rejection of article two with a vote of eight to four, with one abstention.

The proposed charter commission would be temporary, set to disband after its work is completed. Six of the nine members would be elected by the voters, and three would be appointed by the town council.

The commission would make recommendations on areas of the charter including, “but not limited to, consideration of electronic voting at town meeting; streamlining the budget process, and the purpose, function, and structure of the warrant committee,” according to the warrant. However, the charter commission will be free to look at the whole town charter, not just the sections named on the ballot.

The commission would recommend changes to the charter to the council. Councilors would then place any amendments on a future warrant to be confirmed by voters.

In Article 2A, voters have a chance to choose elected members of the charter commission, if creation of the commission is approved. Voters may choose six of the seven candidates. They are Joseph Cough, Joey Engling, Michael Gurtler, Patricia Samuel, Martha Searchfield, Peter St. Germain and Christopher Strout.

Town Clerk Sharon Linscott clarified that the election of charter commission members in article 2A will only take place if article 2 passes. Even though the two are voted on simultaneously, she said, “If 2 doesn’t pass, 2A is basically null and void.”

Article 3 asks voters’ approval to enact a change in the Land Use Ordinance in Town Hill. This amendment was requested by Downeast Horizons, an Ellsworth-based nonprofit that wants to update their Route 3 day program facility, but can’t do so under current zoning rules.

Downeast Horizons is requesting their parcel be moved from Town Hill Residential district to Town Hill Rural district, which would allow them to update their facility. Article 3 is recommended unanimously by both the planning board and the warrant committee (minus one abstention).


Bar Harbor Charter Commission candidates


Joseph Cough

Joey Engling

Michael Gurtler

Patricia Samuel

Martha Searchfield

Peter St. Germain

Christopher Strout


Voters may choose six of the seven candidates. If creation of the charter commission is approved, the town council will appoint three more commission members.