Councilors Disagree on Price
BAR HABOR—This June, during the open floor of Bar Harbor’s annual town meeting, voters will be able to decide on whether or not to sell a 969-square-foot lot to Deborah Vickers and Steven Woitasek, owners of the Black Friar Inn & Pub.
The inn is located next to the town municipal building and now behind the bed and breakfast being built on Cottage Street. The couple have been renting the tiny lot for the last two years and have paid $5,500 in rent to the town.
During the Tuesday meeting, Councilor Jill Goldthwait moved to sell that bit to the Black Friar Inn for the amount of rent already paid and an additional $1,000.
“They have been extremely patient for a very long time,” she said about Vickers and Woitasek.
According to Vickers, they have been trying to purchase the 57-foot by 17-foot tract of land since 2018. Bernice Hopkins had originally sold the lot to the town in 1970 for one dollar. Last year, the town missed the deadline to have the decision placed before the voters, Goldthwait said.
Vickers told the Bar Harbor Story Wednesday night, “The property helps us to enhance our property by not having a weedy lot in front of our building, it provides parking for our personal vehicles as well as the patio tables we put out there during COVID that helped us survive the pandemic. The only hardship if we do not acquire the property would be our not having a patio area, no parking for our personal vehicles as well as a hardship for the town in not getting a piece of property added to the tax rolls. We are more than happy to keep leasing the property, but it makes more sense for everyone if we purchase it.”
Her logic about adding the piece of property to the tax rolls was echoed by many of the councilors who supported the motion.
The couple has maintained and updated the strip with fresh gravel and landscaping.
Councilors Goldthwait, Erin Cough, Jeff Dobbs and Vice Chair Matthew Hochman voted in favor of the motion and it passed. Councilors Joe Minutolo, Chair Valerie Peacock and Gary Friedmann voted against. The council voted unanimously to put the motion on the open floor of town meeting.
Peacock worried about giving a bit of the town away for an amount less than its appraised worth. Goldthwait disagreed.
“It’s a piece of land that I would presume to be unusable,” Goldthwait said. “The town paid $1 for it in 1970. They’ve been waiting.” Goldthwait called it a scrap of land and said that it was appraised at $53,295 prior to the construction of the neighboring bed and breakfast. The assumption was that the construction of the large structure would decrease the small piece of land’s worth.
“That’s very, very generous,” Friedmann said of the motion. He mentioned the fiscal needs of the town and the budget increase as factors for trying to get more money than the motion stipulated.
“The reduced price that happened at the meeting was a very big surprise to us,” Vickers said, “but we are sure this can be figured out to everyone’s satisfaction.”
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