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Bangor council votes to take Pearl Street house, extend outdoor drinking hours

Scott Haskell | BDN
Scott Haskell | BDN
The Bangor City Council voted 8-0 Monday, May 14, 2012, to direct the city manager to take possession of the 110 Pearl St. property occupied by the family of Jennifer and Peter Brown. The couple owes $133,074 in mortgage and tax payments.
By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The City Council sent a clear sign Monday night that it’s the end of the road for a Bangor couple that owes $133,074 in mortgage and tax payments.

The City Council voted 8-0 (Councilor Sue Hawes was absent) to direct the city manager to take possession of the 110 Pearl St. property occupied by the family of Jennifer and Peter Brown. There was nary a word of disagreement as the council voted to begin the eviction process after repeated failures by the Browns to make their mortgage payments and pay their taxes.

While the vote to evict was dispensed with quickly, a change in the city’s drinking curfew was debated heavily and delayed by two attempts to add amendments to it before councilors passed it 5-3.

The new curfew, which went from downtown merchant suggestion to council order in less than a week, would extend by two hours a 21-year-old 10 p.m. curfew for consumption of alcohol outside in downtown Bangor.

“I have nothing against it, but my sense is the system is not broke, so don’t fix it,” said Councilor Geoffrey Gratwick, the lone member of the council’s business and economic development committee to vote against it last week when it was recommended for approval 4-1.

The midnight drinking curfew was suggested by downtown business owners who thought a later cutoff would be a boon to businesses that offer outdoor seating, especially with more downtown activities lasting later in the evening.

The change will allow downtown restaurants and pubs that legally use sidewalk space to serve patrons alcohol or food to do so until midnight through Oct. 15.

“I think this is a positive motion,” said Councilor Joe Baldacci. “I think it’s worth a try and I think downtown Bangor is a much more vibrant and active community than it was 10 to 15 years ago and this is a good thing. If it doesn’t work, we can always come back and fix it.”

Councilor Pat Blanchette said she worried about downtown noise levels increasing from people partying outside.

“I think allowing drinking outside later into the evening will affect the peace of downtown residents who may want to go to bed before midnight and get some sleep,” said Blanchette. “I also think it’s a safety and crime issue.”

Councilor Ben Sprague, who lives downtown, disagreed with that notion.

“I don’t think it’s a safety issue as downtown Bangor is very safe, especially compared to other cities of similar size,” he said. “I got 70 email responses from constituents after I notified them of this and all of them were positive.”

Councilor Charlie Longo was perturbed that the council order did not include wording that gave it one-year probationary status as he said had been agreed to in committee.

“I question the validity of the committee system and how it works,” said Longo. “I will have to withdraw my support on this because I only supported it on the basis of a trial period.”

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