Jennings’ Waterfront Workgroup Reaches Next Crux

Greg Mitchell, Director of Office of Economic Development, for the City.

“I don’t have any plans to build anything now. But who knows? Maybe in the future someone in my family will, ” said Steve DiMillo, co-owner of DiMillos on the Waterfront at the conclusion of a two-hour meeting at city hall late today. “Since I just paid $149,000 in taxes, I deeply resent this suggestion,” he said with his voice rising slightly in anger.

What angered him was the suggestion by one of the Lobster Lobby, Willis Spear, that his 500 ft. set back in front of his well-known restaurant and marina on the Portland waterfront should be rezoned to a 300 ft. set back. It’s currently used as a parking lot for restaurant customers. Spears told the rest of the Group and the 30 members of the audience that his concern about access for the Lobster Lobby along Commercial Street was for “now.” Apparently, disagreeing with Jennings who has repeatedly stated their concern is for the future. The discussion will be continued at the next meeting next month said chair city manager Jon Jennings – averting what could have been a heated discussion. It will be continued at the next meeting next month.

This exchange followed a comprehensive presentation in which the city’s TIF program was described in detail by Greg Mitchell, Economic Development Director for the city. Bill Needleman, Waterfront Coordinator and Matt Grooms, City Planner, likewise gave presentations on zoning issues – which probably was an incentive for the above described discussion about Fishermen’s Wharf.

Jennings convened this group in order to try to head-off a serious petition drive that if successful would have put on the municipal ballot this spring a referendum that would have made drastic changes reflecting the zoning of 1987. Because of progress made, the Lobster Lobby, called off the petition drive last month.

Keith Lane, one of the three from the Lobster Lobby, said: “This is a slow process, but it is necessary.” The Lobster Lobby has been concerned about the increasing traffic on Commercial Street that slows getting fish to the market.

For more background information, please read numerous posts herein dated: December 3, 2019, January 11, 14, 18 and December 28, 2018,