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Bangor City Council Imposes Six-Month Moratorium On New Psychiatric Facilities

BANGOR, Maine -- Members of the Bangor City Council fast-tracked an order imposing an immediate six-month moratorium against the construction of any new psychiatric facilities in the area after a unanimous vote Monday night.

The action came in response to plans advanced by the LePage administration to build a 21-bed “step-down” forensic psychiatric facility on Hogan Road.

City Councilor Sarah Nichols said she questioned why the governor would not work with the Legislature to construct the facility near the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta instead of a Bangor location opposed by many area residents.

"I feel like that makes sense, to have it close to where all of the people who are working at the facility, to be able to actually have a continuum of care," Nichols said.  "And I just wanted to make sure, as was noted, that we're not just looking at where it is physically - or at least I'm not - but also thinking of how patient care would be affected, and we're not getting those answers from the state and that's why I'm supporting this moratorium."

Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci said there were clearly concerns about building the facility so close to a residential neighborhood and the city's major shopping district.

Baldacci said the LePage administration's refusal to meet with city officials and answer specific questions about the project forced the city to freeze the process until details about security and patient care were answered.

"The City Council will continue to try and engage Augusta, but on our own front, we're going to go forward and look at changes to zoning - it's abutting several residential areas, so we may change the zoning ultimately to residential," Baldacci said.

The  governor planned on leasing the proposed Bangor step down facility, and it would be managed by a private agency.