New Employee Housing Proposal Could Help Ease Bar Harbor Housing Shortage

Nov 9, 2019

Officials in Bar Harbor are hoping that a new employee housing proposal could help ease the town's year-round housing shortage.

In this June 4, 2010 photo, a tourist looks at a map in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Credit Robert F. Bukaty / AP File

Planning Director Michele Gagnon says the proposed changes would let businesses house employees on-site or build shared housing for workers in certain locations. She says the measure is designed to ease the housing crunch for year-round residents and to keep more working families from being forced off the island.

“Hopefully, by finding ways to encourage the employers to provide quality and safe employee housing for their seasonal workforce, that does not require the use of year-round housing stock," Gagnon says.

Alf Anderson, the executive director of the Bangor Chamber of Commerce, says some businesses have been forced to buy up large houses for seasonal workers, and he says that allowing new employee housing would help small businesses in town.

“Those smaller businesses would be able to say, we'll hire you for the season,” Anderson says. “Then that employee can go find a room or apartment to rent. The impact would be immediate and significant, for sure.”

The town council rejected another employee housing plan earlier this year. Officials say the new proposal will be taken up in the coming months and could be voted on by residents by next June.

City planners say they're also working on launching a housing study and developing regulations for vacation rentals.

Originally published 4:27 p.m. Nov. 9, 2019