June 21, 2018
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Bangor City Council nixes zone change for subsidized housing

By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — After being turned down by the Bangor Planning Board, a proposal by both the city of Bangor and Community Housing of Maine for a zone change on Sixth Street had even less support Monday night from the Bangor City Council.

Five residents of the surrounding neighborhood voiced opposition to the change, which would have allowed Community Housing of Maine to build an apartment building featuring four one-bedroom units for federal Section 8 tenants — those with low incomes or disabilities — at 63 Sixth St., a three-quarter-acre lot upon which sits a large abandoned house now owned by the city.

The original proposal was to build the same apartment building at 76 Pier St. on the 0.32-acre site of a former ice cream factory at the corner of Pier and Sixth. That proposal was aided by a rezoning of the property.

The expense of demolishing the old factory, however, prompted CHOM to seek a similar zoning change next door at 63 Sixth St.

But neighbors on Sixth, Pier and Williams streets were concerned about apartment building “creep” and its gradual infringement on their residential neighborhood.

Marie Lopez, a Sixth Street resident, noted the large pieces of furniture and rotting mattresses left outside of some nearby apartment buildings, as well as incidents of vandalism and violence near the family home she bought 18 years ago.

“We don’t feel this housing is appropriate in our neighborhood,” echoed Sixth Street resident Catherine Young.

Brenda Sylvester, a development officer with Community Housing of Maine, was present at Monday night’s City Council meeting to answer residents’ questions.

“These are Section 8 homes for homeless people who make half the median income,” said Sylvester, who said fears that sex offenders would be able to live at the apartments were unfounded. “These units would be under the Maine State Housing Authority and would be permanent housing for people who have become homeless for a wide variety of reasons.”

Despite the city of Bangor’s interest in the Sixth Street property, city councilors voted 8-0 against the zone change request, noting the planning board’s 4-2 disapproval of the request and neighbors’ opposition as the prime reasons.

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