August 04, 2020

Rezoning of Union Street opposed

BANGOR — By 4-1, the planning board voted Tuesday to recommend that the City Council deny a rezoning for 768 Union St.

Board members George Burgoyne, Richard Fournier, Mary Ann Bostwick and Fred Costlow voted against rezoning, while Moshe Myerowitz voted for it.

The applicant for rezoning the 18,000-square-foot parcel from urban residence 1 to contract multifamily and service district was Earl Black, who hopes to put additional office space in the building to serve Town and Country, his realty business at 760 Union St. The structure is currently a residence.

The application will now go to the City Council, which will act on it at its Monday meeting.

Black had applied for a regular zone change in October, but withdrew that application before the vote could be held. The council ended up indefinitely postponing that measure.

This time the proposal is for a contract zone, one which contains conditions designed to help gain approval of the application.

Black proposes: to limit the floor area of the building, to restrict “primary use” activities to the home, to bar “substantial” change to the outside of the building, and to limit the number of apartments that could be in the building — one, with office space; or two, without offices.

Two neighbors spoke about the rezoning, expressing their unhappiness with current occupants of the building.

Kermit Ward, who lives across the street, urged the board to approve the rezoning. He said that Black had been a “good neighbor” at his current location, and could be trusted to do a good job with any project.

He said the building at 768 Union was vacant a long time, had some improvements made, was the site of a day care, and has been “a big mess the past year or so.” He cited one instance of “teen-agers coming and going all night,” but also acknowledged that the woman from the home came and apologized later, and that things have been quiet since.

Barbara Lewis-Cleveland, a neighbor of the property, also said she didn’t like the current situation. When told that the rezoning could allow the new owner to put in two apartments if there were no offices, she said she didn’t think that was a good idea.

Planning Officer John Lord recommended against the rezoning as inconsistent with the comprehensive plan, and with other uses in the area. He also told the board and the public that the rezoning wasn’t about the applicant, because the owner of a property could always change.

“We need to remember, we’re not zoning Mr. Black. We’re zoning a piece of property,” he said.

“The attractiveness of the applicant always makes the decision more difficult.”

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