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Bar Harbor voters impacting the future of summer rentals

Today's ballot in Bar Harbor had an extra question on it. Residents voting on whether or not the town will look into defining vacation rental properties

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Every license plate in Maine connects us with one word.


Spending summers on the coast is a popular way for out of staters to experience the state.

Buying property in towns like Bar Harbor and renting for days or weeks at a time can be a profitable business. But for some, renting rooms is how they make it month to month financially.

“Many people are doing it to gap their income, it allows them to live in Bar Harbor, so vacation rental allows them to keep living here," Michele Gagnon the Planning Director of Bar Harbor said.

These issues are a reason voters in the town had the chance to act Tuesday. Defining rental property first became talked about after the town raised rental application fees from $50 to $250. 

An additional issue is the legality of renting rooms. As Gagnon mentioned people in Bar Harbor need to be able to rent out their rooms if they want to stay and live in the town.

Young adults moving to Bar Harbor also have a hard time finding places to live as year round housing is rare to find at a reasonable value.

“(We will work on) how it fits in our economy, how it fits in our residents and our community, and we do it in a way that’s respectful to everyone," Gagnon added. 

With a YES vote today, the town will work on the definition of vacation rentals and then work on setting the minimum number of days someone can rent out a room or property. Currently, the minimum is five days.

With a NO vote today, the town will see no change in the minimum number of days for renting and no change in residency requirements for property owners.

If the vote passes, then voters will be back next year to pass or deny the proposed ordinance.

A solution that is going to take time and work from town officials and the public, but getting its start on this election.

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