January 28, 2021

City council approves new insurance carrier> Coregis dropped for no longer covering sewer claims

BANGOR — The city has a new insurance company.

The City Council on Monday gave quick approval to using Great American Insurance for liability coverage during the coming year, replacing Coregis Insurance.

The council had authorized renewal of a policy with Coregis on June 24 but subsequently learned the company would no longer cover sewer claims.

Coregis had been the subject of several complaints regarding its handling of claims during floods in June and last winter, although officials had recommended renewing the policy because the situation seemed to have improved.

But some Bangor residents were back before the council Monday to share their ongoing concerns. Kathy Neill of Fern Street, who has picketed in front of City Hall frequently, said she was gathering signatures on a petition to ask the council to take a formal look at water and sewer issues in the city.

But she also said she had been pleased to see new, larger storm drains installed in her area, and that she experienced no water problems during recent rains.

Also speaking to the council were Essex Street residents Norm Soucie and Philip Lee. Soucie, who has had problems with sewage backup in his basement, wanted to know what a citizen could do besides start a petition. He said he was pleased to receive information about how to bring matters to the council and city committees.

City Engineer James Ring said a storm water pipe had been closed off in the Essex Street area, and he was hopeful that help eliminate future problems there.

Also on Monday, the council:

Passed 5-3 an ordinance to regulate nightclubs in the downtown area. The ordinance will apply to any eating or drinking establishment serving 300 or more patrons in the Downtown Development District. Also covered under the measure are entertainment facilities.

Nightclub-type businesses obviously are the target, something made clear when the planning board added a stipulation that the ordinance applied to establishments “whose normal hours of operation extend beyond 11 p.m.”

The topic came up last fall when Bangor police and citizens aired concerns while the council was considering two requests for liquor licenses for the former W.T. Grant building at 6 Central St. Both requests were approved initially, but both applicants dropped their plans.

Police Chief Randy Harriman and downtown businesspeople have been telling the council their concerns about allowing nightclubs in the downtown area, where lack of on-site parking means problems with patrons who have been drinking tend to occur on streets and sidewalks.

The ordinance will make nightclubs a “conditional use” in the downtown area, with conditions to include a limit on the number of patrons, a noise limit of 65 decibels in abutting structures and adequate parking within 500 feet.

Tabled an amendment on the city’s ordinance regulating parades and gave a first reading to an one prohibiting targeted residential picketing.

The full council will hold a workshop to review the two ordinances at 5 p.m. Monday at City Hall. Public comment already has been received at a number of meetings of the municipal operations committee, and committee Chairman David Leen has said he does not expect the workshop to include another public hearing.

Leen, who was unable to attend Monday’s council meeting, anticipates the ordinances would be ready for council action on Aug. 12.

Appointed Carol Woodcock, who has been an associate member of the planning board, to the member position vacated by the resignation of James MacArthur. Woodcock’s husband, Timothy, did not vote on her appointment.

Created a recycling advisory committee comprised of one councilor and six members of the public.

Failed by a vote of 4-4 to approve rezoning of a small piece of land adjacent to the Together Place at 268 State St. The facility, which provides mental health services, wants to add a meeting room to its current structure.

Appointed councilors Charles Sullivan and Christopher Popper to the Maine Municipal Association Legislative Policy Committee.

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