The Historic Preservation Board late tonight voted unanimously to table its vote on whether or not to permit an application to demolish 37 Montreal Street at the request of the developer. The vote will be taken at another date, not yet determined. It was delayed because Tim Wells, the developer, clearly did not have enough votes for it to pass.
The application was the first to be addressed under the new moratorium put into place by city officials earlier this year and created by District 1 city councilor Belinda Ray. The HP Board is in the business of saving buildings and not encouraging their demolition – which places it in unfamiliar territory and lacking in wisdom on how to administer it’s new responsibilities. In fact, one anonymous member of the Board told mhn.com following the meeting that she doesn’t understand why the HP Board was assigned this additional responsibility because it makes no sense to her.
A memorandum prepared by city urban designer Caitlin Cameron stated that the project as currently proposed needs more work to meet the standards of the Alternative Design Review. Cameron recommended that the HP Board vote the proposal and staff comments to the Planning Board so Wells and his business partners can move forward. In the meantime, staff and Wells can continue discussions. However, the HP Board rejected this idea. HP Board member Penny Tate, even went so far as to ridicule the project calling it “Disneyland” – to the amusement of the NIMBY’s of Munjoy HIll in attendance.
Tate said she needed more detail than Caitlin provided in her October 10, 2018 memo. The details were “limited” she said. Kevin McCarthy, one of the partners in the team, told the Board that “the rules were not laid out concretely at the first meeting.” Board member Robert O’Brien said that the Board should have spent the last three (3) hours trying to make this project work.” “We are deeply into this. It’s not fair for the government to ask us to spend more money. There is almost no route to get to where we are if this current building doesn’t work,” said Wells. The HP Board should consider relinquishing this additional responsibility assigned it since it is outside of the Board’s expertise.
Board members claimed that the size of the 14 unit project with underground parking was too large and the massing needed to be addressed. Despite, the changes made to the design since the last workshop, it did not address the massing according to the Board. The developers asserted that they made numerous design changes in accordance with the Board’s recommendations at two previous workshops.
The developer, Tim Wells, and his several business partners, decided to return in an additional workshop, with the same baseline as was presented this evening in an almost four (4) hour public hearing in which public testimony was heard. The third workshop is intended to find a “path forward” on the project.
The NMBY’s of Munjoy HIll were in attendance at the meeting testifying against the demolition of 37 Montreal Street. The core group of the original NIMBY’s was founded to derail the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum & Railroad from functioning on the Eastern Promenade in the early 1990’s. (mhn.com has first hand knowledge of that nasty and underhanded battle). Next the core group of the current NIMBY’s went after the development plans of CPB2 LLC for 58 Fore Street, a/k/a Portland Foreside currently. The NIMBY’s of Munjoy HIll even managed to get the issue on the ballot; they lost – even on Munjoy Hill. We know what happened on these battles by the NIMBY’s of Munjoy Hill.
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over!