Planning Board chair Ken Huhn speaks at a planning board meeting at Bangor City Hall on Tuesday. Credit: David Marino Jr. / BDN

Several residents spoke out against a zoning change at a Bangor Planning Board meeting on Tuesday that would officially allow homeless shelters in city zones meant for government and institutional buildings.

The zoning change would allow the building of homeless shelters in Bangor’s Government & Institutional Services District, which is scattered across the city. It would also ensure that shelters in that zone are no longer non-conforming to code, which currently restricts changes or expansion to their facilities.

Nearly 25 residents attended the meeting. Interest piqued after homeowners who lived within 100 feet of a building zoned for government and institutional use — like schools, hospitals and water towers — received letters last week informing them of the proposed change and the meeting. Those letters are required under state statute, city planner Anne Krieg said Tuesday.

The Planning Board did not vote on the final proposal, with board chair Ken Huhn saying that it will seek further comment from the public before voting at a planning board meeting scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 21. The matter will then need to receive final approval by the Bangor City Council.

Several residents, including Essex Street resident June Commeau, noted the prevalent issue of homelessness in Bangor. They felt that approving the measure could only worsen that problem, bringing homeless residents from outside of the city.

David Green, who lives on Dunning Boulevard, said that the city had become a “magnet” for the  homeless population.

“I don’t think we want to be attracting people from other communities — other parts of Maine or outside Maine,” Green said.

Most spoke in opposition to the measure, though one man did call for more compassion for the homeless population. Others suggested other solutions, including a plan with the state on shelters.

Planning board member Lisa Shaw, who serves on the board of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, asked in the meeting if she should recuse herself from voting for the motion. However, her fellow planning board members did not vote for her to do so.