NORWAY – Although neighbors on Hayden Avenue were quiet at the public hearing last week regarding the homeless housing project for their street, they have said they didn’t speak out more due to resigned defeat than acceptance.

“It doesn’t do any good, they don’t listen to us,” Hazel Hudon, a 71-year-old neighbor said. She said she didn’t attend the public hearing, which is an opportunity for locals to air their opinions about proposed developments, because she had given up and also because her back hurt.

Rumford Group Homes Inc., a social service agency, has designed a four-unit apartment complex on Hayden Avenue for single mothers who are homeless. Since introducing the plans to the Planning Board last spring, Rumford Group Homes and local officials have heard from the residents off the short, dead-end street located off Pleasant Street.

The neighbors have expressed worry about the apartment building decreasing the value of their properties, the possibility of a stepped-up police presence, and the degradation of some of the neighborhood’s calm and quiet.

Alan Monier, the executive director for Rumford Group Homes, was unavailable for comment until next week, and he is the only one authorized to speak on the project, Paula Paladino of the agency said Tuesday.

But a representative of Rumford Group Homes said at the public hearing last week that the women and their children would move in, possibly permanently, and that the neighbors would get a chance to watch the children grow up. She also explained that a supervisor at the home would oversee the women, encouraging good parenting habits.

There is an application process, too, for the residents, who are chosen partially based on their ability to improve their situation through school or work.

Bernhard Loef, who lives next to the planned apartment building, said he was at the public hearing but didn’t speak up.

“I didn’t feel that whatever I said had a bearing on it,” he said. “They had made up their mind.”

Norway does not have zoning laws that would prevent a multiunit home from being built in a neighborhood of single-family houses.

Loef and his wife, Laurice, have discussed selling or leasing their home now that the project is definitely coming in, he said. Moreover, they even have singled out the type of renter they prefer: a registered sex offender.

“I’ve called the Department of Corrections about leasing the house to a registered sex offender,” Loef said. “It first started off as being a threat, just a scare tactic, but these people, they really don’t care, they’re only interested in getting the place up and running.”

According to Donna Cote, a supervisor of the Maine Sex Offender Registry, there is no restriction on where sex offenders can live unless otherwise stipulated in the conditions of their probation.

The Planning Board approved the application last week with the condition that the agency build a fence between it and its neighbors. This was not part of the original plan because the extra $5,000 for the fence was too expensive, Paladino explained at the public hearing.

But Planning Board Chairman Dennis Gray said Tuesday that the board allowed the agency to build six parking spaces rather than nine to save money for the fencing.

The Planning Board also asked that the agency move a dumpster location.

“I’m not very pleased, but what I know is there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s very upsetting,” said 63-year-old Elizabeth Tetreault. The great-grandmother lives on Hayden Avenue and said she’s worried about the children running around on neighbors’ lawns. She said she skipped the public hearing because she felt the project “was a done deal.”


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