Eighteen people spoke during the public hearing on a contentious Essex Woods development, and neighbors remain fierce in their opposition.
The site of the proposed Maine Woods subdivision off Lancaster Avenue near Essex Woods, pictured in September. Credit: Courtesy of Emily Ellis

Bangor is reviewing a contentious application to build a 60-unit housing subdivision after a court found the city was in error when it approved the project last year.

The Bangor planning board unanimously decided on Tuesday that the application for the development is complete — the first step in reconsidering the proposal — but did not make any decision on whether to approve the request.

The proposal is to build 30 two-story duplexes with a total of 60 housing units. It would happen on about 12 acres of land, nine of which would be green space with public walking trails, according to the application. The townhouses would each have three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The development would sit between East Broadway, Essex Street, Lancaster Avenue and Interstate 95, with two entrances on Lancaster Avenue and East Broadway.

Emily Ellis, a real estate broker with Team Properties in Bangor, applied for site plan approval for the housing development, known as the Maine Woods project, in June 2022.

While the project would bring a slew of new housing to a region that desperately needs it, the idea has faced months of opposition from neighbors who fear it would increase traffic, dilute water pressure and lessen access to wildlife and outdoor space, among other concerns.

Ultimately, the planning board approved the project on Sept. 27, 2022, but neighbors asked for a judicial review of the decision in October 2022.

Last month, the Penobscot County Superior Court bounced the decision back to the city’s planning board with a series of instructions for how to review the proposal, causing Ellis to resubmit the same development application for reconsideration.

Penobscot County Superior Court Judge Patrick Larson said, the developer didn’t do anything wrong in the application process, but the court voided the city’s previous approval because it found the city misclassified the size of the project and did not explicitly outline its reasons for approving the permit.

The court’s ruling doesn’t kill the proposal, but it did require construction to halt after it began earlier this year and was slated to wrap up in late 2024. Environmentally required erosion protection measures, however, must continue while the planning board re-evaluates the application.

With the planning board finding that the developer’s application is complete, a public hearing on the proposal will take place at next week’s planning board meeting.

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...