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Portland Planning Board hears from neighbors of future Roux Institute campus

Artist rendering of the proposed Roux Campus at the former B&M property in Portland.
Artist rendering of the proposed Roux Campus at the former B&M property in Portland.

Portland's Planning Board heard from neighbors of the proposed Roux Institute Tuesday after its developers, IDEALS, scaled back plans due to residents' concerns about the size of the campus, the height of its buildings and the traffic it could generate. Roux developers are asking for a zoning change to allow the institute to grow over time. Carol Schiller has lived in the neighborhood for 32 years and believes the project should move forward with no further reductions, because it will help Maine keep high technology talent in the state.

"I urge you to go forward and support this groundbreaking gift to the state of Maine. The Roux vision is one that will surpass our lifetimes. I support this development knowing the neighborhood will survive and thrive," Schiller said.

Other residents still oppose the size and scale of the proposed campus.

Matthew Noone of East Deering, a software business owner, said he understands the shortage of skilled talent and lack of housing. But he doesn't support the developers' vision for the campus on the former B&M Factory site.

"Chris from IDEALS mentioned earlier, the need for Roux to have a substantial campus. A substantial campus on this piece of property is mind boggling," Noone said.

Noone, who was one of the people who spoke at Tuesday night's planning board meeting, said multiple buildings with 650 housing units is not appropriate for the site.

If approved by the City of Portland, the Roux Institute will be a graduate school and research center built on the former B&M Baked Bean Factory site.