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Roux Institute project moves forward after councilors approve zoning change

Portland City Council voted unanimously in favor of zoning proposals for the former site of the B&M Beans factory.

PORTLAND, Maine — After much discussion Monday night, plans to construct a large campus for the Roux Institute in Portland are moving forward.

The council said the graduate school and research center, backed by Northeastern University, would not just be a win for Portland, but for the state.

City councilors voted unanimously in favor of a number of zoning proposals to allow the project to take shape, including rezoning the area that was once home to the B&M Baked Beans factory.

The decision changes the site from a "largely industrial zone" to a mixed-use "urban-commercial" one and creates a special "institutional overlay zone."

Councilors also approved the creation of a community advisory group, because North Deering residents said they would like more of a say. 

"We are not NIMBYs. (Not in my back yard) If anything I think we are we are YIMBYs, if that's the correct term," Cheryl Leeman said. 

Leeman noted that she and her neighbors who have voiced concerns about traffic in the area are not entirely opposed to the project. 

"We welcome them in to our neighborhood, but we feel that in spite of the comments we're hearing this evening, that we have been left out of the process," she said.

Other Portland residents voiced their full support for the construction of the institute.

"Could any institution in Maine ever make this happen with the resources that they're bringing?" John Carroll said. "It is an unimaginable gift."

Just last week, Governor Janet Mills wrote to the council to voice her support of the zoning changes saying it could potentially help Maine's future growth. 

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