Maine developers seek ways to calm the neighbors about new projects

As head of a company that builds affordable housing, Dana Totman knows what it’s like to face neighborhood opposition to a proposed development.

Totman, president and CEO of Portland-based Avesta Housing, said a 2014 effort to build a senior housing project in Portland even resulted in threats to his family.

“One neighbor objected – viciously, vigorously,” Totman said. “He pointed out that he knew where my wife and I lived.”

Developers in Portland say that NIMBYism, the tendency of nearby residents to categorically reject any proposed development they deem unappealing, is a serious problem, especially in Portland.

However, some Portland residents who have led efforts against development in the past said the only thing they object to is city officials approving projects that don’t meet established planning and zoning standards.

A group of developers met this month in South Portland to discuss strategies for overcoming neighborhood opposition, which they said can stifle economic growth, drive

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