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Bar Harbor Town Council Encouraging Public Input 

Public input is encouraged at a meeting set for Tuesday night in Bar Harbor.

Councilors will open the floor to residents to talk about issues ranging from parking to cruise ships.

“We have, kind of, the perfect storm of issues in this town right now,” said Judie Noonan, a local business owner.

A long-discussed debate among year-rounders living in Bar Harbor: too much or not enough cruise ship tourism?

“There are days when the town just feels inundated and that there’s been an awful lot of talk about how many people are in town and how many people are unloaded,” said Tom Burton, who signed a citizen petition.

Awaiting discussion at the Town Council meeting are issues like allowing cruise ships at the former ferry terminal, also installing parking meters and kiosks throughout town, and cruise ship ordinances.

Nearly 400 signatures were collected in a citizen initiative that, if approved for the June ballot, would give voters control of the passenger cap and ship size allowed to dock in Bar Harbor.

“The people need to have the voice and not just the two or three people that want to create a vision, or create a legacy, or have been working on something for seven years, you know,” said Burton.

Judie Noonan is a local business owner who says she opposes the petition. Though she says ship passengers don’t directly impact her sales, she is in favor of cruise ships docking at the former ferry terminal.

“Granted, I’m not in favor of an 800-foot dock in the middle of the bay and huge mega yachts coming in, however I think it’s an opportunity the town should take advantage of,” Noonan.

Petitioners will present their plea to put power back in the hands of the people.

Town Manager Cornell Knight says they haven’t had an issue in the last ten years setting the passenger cap.

“This is a council form of government, so they have passed a charter that does grant the council authority on things,” he said.

Knight says a UMaine study on the 2016 season showed ship passengers spent more than $20M, supporting nearly 400 local jobs.