By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,800)
Late this afternoon Richard Barringer a co-chair of the India Street Neighborhood Advisory Group told mhn.com that he and City Councilor Kevin Donoghue from District 1 on Munjoy Hill decided to rescind the vote of the India Street Neighborhood Planning Group last week. The vote was to recommend to a city committee that a temporary pause be placed on new development in the area for the near term – about six months.
It was previously reported herein that the group voted to support a temporary pause in new development in the India Street Neighborhood while discussions are underway about the future zoning of the area. That temporary pause recommendation was to have been on the upcoming agenda for the Housing and Community Development Committee, of which Councilor Donoghue is the chair. Representatives of the real estate industry at the May 7 meeting called the pause a moratorium that would not be supported by the real estate industry in the Portland area. City planner Caitlin Cameron had said the recommendation was not a moratorium, but an effort to protect the India Street area from development pressure during this time of change. Furthermore, anyone filing plans with the city prior to the effective date, would not be required to adhere to the revised zoning ordinances.
At that meeting, Tom Federle, real estate attorney for billionaire hedge fund owner S. Donald Sussman, objected to the moratorium on new development in the area. Sussman who lives in the area had once taken steps to build upscale townhouses in the area, but backed off for “business” reasons. His developer for the project, Kevin Bunker, sued him for non-payment of services and the matter was settled out of court. It is believed that Sussman is holding off any development until the parameters of the Franklin Street area, which abuts his property, is decided. It’s speculated that such a moratorium, especially if it drags on beyond the proposed six months, could interfere with any plans that Sussman has for developing the area. That delay is contrary to what the India Street Neighborhood Association, chaired by Hugh Nazor, wants to have happen. In the past the ISNA has been frustrated by Sussman’s failure to develop the blighted area along Hampshire Street – to the point there was even wishful talk of suing Sussman for neglect of his properties by some ISNA board members.
Barringer, a Munjoy Hill resident, said he received no unusual pressure from real estate developers who oppose the recommendation, but life is too short to get into any “spats” with any of them either! (That’s for sure – it’s later than you think!) But he did wish all Mothers a Happy Mother’s Day! Barringer, is a former candidate for Governor of Maine as well as a professor at Muskie School of Public Policy, USM, Portland.
Councilor Kevin Donoghue, co-chair of the India Street group with Barringer and chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee has not responded to a request for a comment on the decision from mhn.com
Mhn.com reported on the matter previously on May 7th herein, Post # 1,778. The Post received an unusually high number of public views.