The new communications coordinator and sustainability coordinator make presentations
BAR HARBOR—Monday was a new time and a new night for the Bar Harbor Town Council, but that didn’t keep the elected officials from having a full agenda.
During the Town Council’s October 3 meeting councilors approved changes to the Short-Term Rental Registration Ordinance, rejected the town’s Land Acquisition Policy and listened to presentations by its new Communications Coordinator and Sustainability Coordinator. Councilors spoke about their priorities for the upcoming November 1 goal-setting meeting. The council also held a question and answer about its Cruise Ship Management Plan and heard about a development study.
During her opening words, Council Chair Valerie Peacock spoke about the layers of the community and how those layers overlap and aren’t distinct before recognizing the lobster fishing community, which is currently facing federal challenges. She said there are 25 full-time lobster fishers in Bar Harbor, with more working part-time and as crew. Many, she said, are second or third generations who bring in millions of pounds of lobsters and millions of dollars into the community that’s distributed into taxes, goes into donations, and is spent in restaurants and shops.
The money doesn’t really represent the value of the bar harbor lobsterman to our culture and our community, she said and said that she stayed in Bar Harbor after attending the College of the Atlantic because of the fishing community.
On September 5, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch lowered North American lobster to a “red/avoid” status because the industry may impact North American right whales.
At the same time, Maine’s state government and industry are appealing a federal court decision by U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg that refused the industry to postpone restrictions that are meant to help keep right whales safe (Maine Lobstermen’s Association Inc. v. National Marine Fisheries Service et al, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, case No. 21-2509.)
The Maine Lobstermen’s Association said that the decision “failed Maine’s lobster industry” and that it was clear that neither the court nor the National Marine Fisheries Service realized, “The devastating impacts their decisions will have on the Maine lobster industry, our coastal communities and the state of Maine.”
NEW FACES IN TOWN HALL
Maya Caines, the town’s new communications coordinator and Laura Berry, the town’s new sustainability coordinator, both had short presentations detailing their goals and current work.
Caines said that Facebook was the main social channel and form of communication for the town and she looks toward how the town can be more proactive and methodical in its efforts and is also working on a brand guide, voice and slogan as well as having a single point of contact within departments for communications. She hopes to increase accessibility for the website and public understanding, which she believes involves simplified language, information sharing and in-person discussions.
She’s begun a Wednesday meeting series with the town manager and is working with Town Clerk Liz Graves on pulling the warrant explanations for the public prior to the November elections.
She also wants to diversify the information shared by the town on social media beyond the safety updates, meeting updates, events, and news that is usually presented.
SHORT-TERM RENTAL REGISTRATION ORDINANCE AMENDMENT
After a public hearing with no discussion, councilors voted 7-0 to approve changes to the Short-Term Rental Registration Ordinance. The changes strike a portion of the life safety code, adding in other areas. It also adds summary boxes and definitions of terms.
LAND ACQUISITION POLICY
Graves submitted a memo about what she’d found about the town’s Land Acquisition Policy after it was brought up at the council’s last meeting. Vice Chair Matthew Hochman suggested that he’d like to talk to a former councilor about its intent, but the council ended up voting 7-0 to repeal the policy.
Only one member of the public spoke for three minutes during the meeting’s public comment time. Annlinn Kruger read an email from Town Manager Kevin Sutherland as well as specific quotes from a Mount Desert Islander article. The quotes were Sutherland’s and in reference to Kruger’s chalk and water messages “Google Leonard Leo=Corrupt Courts” about Northeast Harbor summer resident and conservative activist Leonard Leo.
She said that Bar Harbor’s rush to erase her messages raises First Amendment concerns and played a short recording on her phone of Sutherland saying, “I’m asking you to stop defacing public property.”
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Editor’s Note: Apologies. Between the livestream glitching and journeying back and forth to the meeting, we missed the council’s priorities session, comments, and town manager’s comments as well as Laura Berry’s presentation. When the minutes become available or the playback of the meeting works, we’ll update this story.
A recent NYT piece about Leonard Leo.