Planning Board Approves Hill “Overlay District”; City Council Next Stop

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Sean Dundon, Chair of the Planning Board and Brandon Mazer, Vice Chair at the May 8, 2018 Meeting.

The proposed Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District won approval from the Planning Board this past Tuesday, May 8, 2018.

The “District” was proposed with the anticipation it will alleviate some of the development issues experienced by the Hill due to “infill” changes in the code made back in 2015.  The changes were championed by City Councilor Kevin Donoghue, District 1, who was also chair of the Housing Committee.  Fresh out of graduate school, Donoghue was probably heavily lobbied by developers since they would benefit most by the changes.  Individual homeowners were not considered.

Changes will implement new dimensional, design and performance standards related to new construction and demolition in the R-6 Zone.   In his brief overview, Jeff Levine, Director of the Planning & Urban Department, said that since the recent workshop before the planning board he had continued to do a lot of outreach to the community that resulted in some changes to the previous draft.  This District will apply to properties in the R-6 district east of Washington Avenue and Mountfort Street, north of Fore Street and west of the Eastern Promenade.

The decision of the planning board followed testimony from numerous residents of the Hill or those with investment concerns in the proposed District.  The lead-off testifier was Karen Snyder who said that the Hill is being “strip-mined.” She said that recently fourteen (14) properties have been torn down and that ten (10) more could be torn down following the June 5th deadline.  Barry Menter, a long-time Eastern Promenade resident said:  “My house is not protected.  If it were sold, it would be torn down.”

Considerations of two historic districts will come at a later date.

The approved District Overlay will be on the May 21st City Council agenda for its first read and then voted on at its Monday, June 4, 2018 meeting – in time for the June 5th expiration date.

For more information, please contact Christine Grimando, Senior Planner for the City of Portland.

Please see previous post herein dated April 15, 2018 for more information.

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