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Bangor rejects proposal to convert more historic houses into boarding homes — for now

Bangor City Hall is seen in this June 22, 2017, file photo.
Ashley L. Conti
Bangor City Hall is seen in this June 22, 2017, file photo.

A proposal that would have made it easier to convert large, historic homes in Bangor into boarding houses failed unanimously in the city council Monday night.

But councilors suggested they could revise the proposal to address concerns from the public.

Boarding homes have shared living spaces and at least three private rooms for rent. City planners say boarding homes are becoming popular with young professionals and could provide more affordable options for older residents on fixed incomes.

But the proposal has generated many comments from the public.

Some Bangor residents say they're worried that boarding homes will negatively impact their historic neighborhoods. They also suggested that new ordinances should include provisions to ensure that boarding home owners maintain their properties.

Councilor Clare Davitt said she voted against the proposal, but only because she believes it should be revised to address some of the public's concerns. Bangor must embrace boarding homes as a way to create more affordable housing, she said.

"We can't keep pushing back and saying no, this won't work or not in my neighborhood, because it has to be," Davitt said. "It has to be in our neighborhoods. It has to be in our community."

Doug Dunbar, the co-founder of a coalition of non-profit organizations called Penobscot County Cares, said boarding homes could be a tool to transition members of Bangor's homeless population into housing.

"It's not a silver bullet, but solving homeless will take a variety actions," he told the city council Monday.

The city says the original boarding homes proposal was based on the recommendations from a 2019 affordable housing group in Bangor.