A number of Bangor residents expressed outrage Tuesday night at a code change that would allow boarding homes in certain neighborhoods to address a lack of affordable housing and encourage denser development.
The city sent letters last month to residents informing them that the planning board was considering an amendment that would formally allow boarding homes and bed-and-breakfasts in certain districts throughout Bangor.
At a Tuesday night planning board meeting, more than a dozen residents expressed concerns that allowing boarding homes would lead to increased noise, crime and traffic, lower property values for homeowners and a greater burden on the city’s code enforcement office, which would be charged with inspecting more properties.
The planning board voted to delay taking action on the amendment. It will continue taking public comment at its next meeting on March 15.
City planner Anne Krieg said that there were no plans pending to build new boarding homes, and that the amendment would allow for more shared housing as Bangor faces a dearth of available properties to rent and a rising cost of living. Three people spoke in favor of the amendment, including a current boarding home owner.
“The zoning amendment before you tonight represents city planning at its very worst,” said Miles Theeman, a Bangor resident and former planning board chair. “Consider the impact on our property values, and our attractiveness to potential buyers and taxes to the city.”
Other residents expressed concerns that the code change would allow absentee boarding home owners to let the properties fall into disrepair because they wouldn’t be required to live onsite, and that reduced parking requirements would make finding street parking more competitive. An increased reliance on street parking would also make it more difficult for plows to clear streets after snowstorms, they said.
The amendment would require one parking space per room for bed-and-breakfasts and one parking space for every four rooms for boarding homes, Krieg said. Reduced parking requirements lower the cost of development and allow more space to be devoted to increasing room sizes rather than saving space for cars, she said.
Peggy Sheriff, who owns a boarding house on Essex Street, said that most of her tenants are elderly retirees or disabled people who live on fixed incomes and cannot afford to rent apartments.
“I screen my people very carefully,” Sheriff said, adding that she lives onsite and employs a building manager. “Don’t judge one industry by several bad landlords.”