Environmentally Concerned Citizens Successfully Challenge Bar Harbor Zoning Changes in Court

In a lengthy written opinion, the Superior Court sustained the challenges brought by seven Bar Harbor property owners, represented by Bill Dale of Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry, challenging an extensive set of amendments to both the text and map components of the Town’s Land Use Ordinance (LUO).  Given the strength of the Court’s opinion, the Town has since decided not to appeal to the Maine Supreme Court.

The Bar Harbor Town Council proposed sweeping changes to the Town’s LUO that would have rolled back significant environmental protections in many areas of Town, especially the ecologically fragile coastline at Hulls Cove.  Many concerned citizens expressed their outrage and engaged Bill Dale to challenge the same in the Maine Superior Court.  After a week-long bench trial in Bangor, the Superior Court upheld the challenges and invalidated the most significant portions of the land use ordinance amendments from two separate Town meeting votes.  Most importantly, the changes that would have opened up the Hulls Cove area for major development were struck down as being inconsistent with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.  The Superior Court’s decision also emphasized the importance of appropriate notice to residents of such changes, both as a matter of fundamental fairness and failure to comply with the State law governing the same.

Mr. Dale has a general municipal law and litigation practice, with a concentration in land use and property taxation matters.