Affordable housing tops Bangor’s priority list in the city’s first comprehensive plan update in more than a decade.

Many of the goals listed in the plan focus on easing the shortage of low- and middle- income housing that has left some first-time homebuyers priced out of the market and others seeing their rents spike. Increasingly, more people don’t have housing at all.  

The city began the lengthy process to redo Bangor’s comprehensive plan in early 2022, which is the first update since 2012. The plan is a list of goals the city wants to achieve or efforts to continue in the coming years. The document is meant to guide city leaders when they make or alter policies and approve future development.

The implementation plan, the draft of which was released on Thursday, prioritizes the goals listed in the city’s comprehensive plan, names responsible agencies for each goal, establishes a rough timeline and identifies potential resources for achieving each item.

Of the 50 goals listed in the plan, at least nine involve increasing housing availability and affordability in the city, and almost all are listed as high-priority items.

Some objectives aim to increase and improve the quality of the city’s housing inventory while others center on expanding the affordable housing stock and addressing the burgeoning numbers of homeless people, which city leaders have struggled to shrink in recent years.

The city’s growing homelessness crisis ultimately drew a federal disaster relief team from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to Bangor to rapidly rehouse people experiencing homelessness. No update on how many people the team has housed thus far was available on Friday.

One goal in the comprehensive plan states the city could work with developers and direct some of its $20 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to housing projects for residents with certain income levels.

Another action item discusses how the city could address the dozens of condemned, vacant and derelict properties that could become viable housing. Some local developers are already working on these.

One high-priority goal is establishing a rental property registration and inspection program to help the city track those units and ensure that Bangor’s housing stock is well maintained.

To assist Bangor’s residents who are experiencing homelessness, the plan also directs city leaders to continue working with local social service agencies and providers to ensure that people are receiving help.

The plan also outlines how the city should advocate for a regional approach to address homelessness, but previous city meetings on that topic petered out after just a few sessions.

Other goals outline how city leaders should review land use rules to make sure they allow for all types of housing development in various areas of Bangor.

Other non-housing goals listed in the plan center around improving bicycle, pedestrian and public transportation travel in Bangor, protecting and improving local parks and recreation spaces and growing the region’s recreation and tourism industry.

The city also released an updated color-coded land use map of Bangor intended to guide where certain things can and should be developed. Some areas, for example, are devoted to business and commercial activity, while other regions are earmarked for low- or high-density residential neighborhoods.

Compared side-by-side, the most notable difference between the 2005 and 2023 maps is the expansion of Bangor’s “urban neighborhood,” designated for medium- and high-density housing, that borders the downtown area. That expansion shrinks the areas of Bangor previously intended for low-density housing.

In the 2005 map, the city’s urban neighborhood doesn’t stretch north of South Park Street or west of Warren Street. In the updated version, the urban neighborhood region ends where Interstate 95 slices through the city.

The city also clarified large areas rather than giving individual schools or industrial parks their own designations. The new map, for example, shows Husson University and Bangor High School absorbed into the large “neighborhood residential” chunk of the city.  

The Bangor Planning Board will gather public feedback on the draft implementation plan during a 7 p.m. meeting on Feb. 21. Bangor city councilors will hold a workshop on the implementation plan on Feb. 13 and 27. Written public comments can also be submitted through the city’s comprehensive plan webpage.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the year Bangor’s comprehensive plan and land use maps were last updated. The two documents were last updated in 2012.

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...