Bangor council delays action on Hope House expansion request

Posted July 09, 2012, at 10:25 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — What was expected to be a battle turned into a temporary truce as councilors unanimously agreed to postpone voting on a request to expand the Hope House at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Penobscot Community Health Care asked councilors to amend the conditional uses allowed in the area occupied by the Hope House — a facility at 179 Indiana Ave. that provides emergency food and shelter to alcoholics and drug addicts, as well as on-site medical care, mental health services, housing support and social service case management. PCHC officials would like zoning to allow for rooming houses, boarding homes or congregate housing facilities owned and operated by a public or nonprofit organization.

Nearby homeowners and residents are against the proposed expansion, saying that Hope House residents have created problems in the neighborhood ranging from loud, coarse language to trash and safety and security issues.

Police are called to the Hope House fairly often, said homeowners and neighbors including Alfred Mosca and David Green, who both live on Dunning Boulevard.

PCHC Chief Executive Officer Ken Schmidt has offered to hold a meeting with nearby residents to air concerns and come up with possible alternatives and compromises that address major problems.

The Bangor Planning Board voted 4-3 against approving PCHC’s requested amendment.

Cary Weston, City Council chairman, said postponing the vote on expansion until the first council meeting in September will allow more time for Schmidt to meet with residents.

In other agenda action, the council:

• Voted 9-0 to approve revision of Bangor’s city code pertaining to dangerous trees and branches on private property. The revisions mean disputes over trees on private property must be settled between neighbors or in court.

• Voted 9-0 to accept and appropriate $601,000 in grant money from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to address tobacco and substance use as well as chronic disease and promote nutrition and physical activity.

• Voted 9-0 to amend city code prohibiting Saturday parking on a portion of York Street between Essex and Adams streets to allow use by those attending services at the two synagogues on York. A handicapped parking space will be added in front of Congregation Beth Israel on York Street.

• Authorized by a 9-0 vote the issuance of up to $35 million in general obligation bonds for the Bangor arena project.

• Unanimously approved both liquor and special amusement licenses for 81 Park St. Events Center, a business — operating at the site of the former Tarratine Club — which is still in the planning stages and is being started up by Tricia and Bob Quirk.

• Approved a development agreement 9-0 with Largay-Feeney Investments to rehabilitate an abandoned home at 55 Grant St. that the city acquired through mature tax liens.

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