The cruise ship petition is stuck in the council chambers

BAR HARBOR — The question of whether a citizen petition to limit the disembarkation of cruise passengers will be on the November 8 mandate is still pending for the city council.

After several lawyers raised legal concerns about the petition during Tuesday night’s public hearing into the matter, council members said they needed more time to decide whether they would move the measure forward in the urns. They have until August 16 to place the amendment on the municipal meeting mandate in November in order to be in compliance with the city code.

“We all take an oath to respect the Constitution. It’s an oath that I personally take very, very seriously,” City Council Vice President Matthew Hochman said. “We need to consult with a lawyer to make sure anything we put on the warrant is constitutional.”

In his opening remarks on the petition, Charles Sidman, who led the citizens’ initiative, said the measure had a solid legal basis, but that claim was not supported by two lawyers attending the hearing on behalf of of local customers.

Andy Hamilton, attorney for Ocean Properties, said the petition, which changes the land use ordinance to limit the number of cruise ship passengers entering town to 1,000 per day, has a litany of questions federal and constitutional.

“I’ve practiced land use planning law in Maine for 38 years, and I can tell you that it’s beyond the land use planning jurisdiction of this city. This is beyond the jurisdiction of this city’s waterfront zoning,” Hamilton said. “That authority has to give way to federal regulation because we’re talking about federal maritime commerce.”

Hamilton said the US Constitution has three clauses that protect the rights of citizens to travel freely: the privileges and immunities clause; the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment; and the commercial clause.

“Anyone who has followed recent Supreme Court rulings should be concerned about the right to travel,” Hamilton said. “He is revered in this nation. And that has to be seen in the context of this petition.

Solicitor Tim Woodcock, who said he was there on behalf of “another business in town” which he did not identify, said that if council decides to hold the petition out of warrant, the petitioners could challenge this in court; the court would then consider the initiatives constitutionally, which it said would be declared invalid.

“The order is flatly unconstitutional,” Woodcock said. “Under the force of what is called the Dormant Commerce Clause, the federal government controls interstate and foreign commerce.”

In an email to city council the next morning, Sidman said that under city code C-48, council had no choice but to put the proposal to the November ballot.

The city code states that if council does not pass a petition within 60 days or repeal it within 30 days of the date the petition is finally deemed sufficient by council – which is is produced on June 21 – he must submit the initiative to the voters. .

“Should the legal action to bring the City into compliance with existing law begin now?” wrote Sidman, who called on the council to “rectify the mistakes of last night. “And if not, the next move may well be an addition of a ‘citizen veto’ or ‘reminder’ to the city charter.”

*Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the exact date the petition received a final sufficiency determination.

Victoria DeCoster covers the Bar Harbor area, including city councils and committees. She recently moved to the island after graduating from Syracuse University last year. Contact Victoria with advice and story ideas at [email protected].
Victoria De Coster

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