Residents strenuously objected at a Tuesday night meeting to a developer’s plans to build a subdivision with 30 duplexes in Bangor.
The city has considered a number of strategies to increase its housing supply in recent years, like curbing zoning restrictions to allow for more development and allowing boarding homes. The proposal for the so-called Maine Woods Subdivision would add new units to the city’s housing stock.
Emily Ellis, the former Maine basketball star and real estate broker, applied in June to build new residential units and a private road for a 60-unit subdivision by the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Essex Street, according to the permit application.
The project is a continuation of an earlier proposal from 2006 that was never built and for which the permits had lapsed.
Ellis told the Bangor Planning Board that her goal was to “be a good neighbor,” and help increase the amount of affordable housing in Bangor. If approved, the project would be built by fall 2023. The entrance would be from Lancaster Avenue, according to project plans.
“Bangor is no longer our little secret,” she told board members. “We are the youngest small city in Maine. The biggest hurdle [is] a lack of affordable housing. Never has it been more difficult to find people livable, affordable and safe housing, both rentals and single-family homes.”
Each unit would cost around $250,000, to keep it affordable, Ellis said.
But dozens of residents in the surrounding area pushed back, echoing concerns that residents raised when the board first brought forth an ultimately successful proposal to allow more boarding homes in Bangor.
Residents said Tuesday that the proposed site was full of ledge and would require extensive blasting, that Lancaster Avenue was too narrow to handle an influx of traffic from new residents and that the development would cut off residents’ access to wildlife and green space for their children to play.
City engineer John Theriault said he had conducted a traffic study that showed the project would add 31 cars at morning and evening peak hours.
In other words, it would only add a three-second delay for drivers turning from Essex Street onto Lancaster Avenue and vice versa, he said.
“I’ve had the pleasure of having my country in my backyard,” said Don Kimball, a resident who said he used the proposed site to hit golf balls and walk his dog.
He also said the neighborhood’s proximity to the Essex Street standpipe diluted residents’ water pressure, and that adding another 60 units would aggravate the problem.
“I can’t run a hose outside and my partner can’t shower at the same time,” he said.
Another resident, Keith LaPlante, pointed out that East Broadway, which Lancaster Avenue runs into, was only 14 feet wide and wouldn’t be able to handle more cars from new development residents.
“If one truck is parked on that street, you can’t get through,” he said.
The board voted unanimously to continue the public comment period at its next meeting on Aug. 16.