By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,409)
The Planning Board voted this evening to delay the scheduled public hearing and its decision on whether or not to accept the recommendation of the Historic Preservation (:HP”) Board that 58 Fore Street be designated as the ‘Portland Company Historic District’. A new date of October 27th, at 7:00 pm, was agreed by the planning board and the property developer CPB2, represented by Jim Brady for the rescheduled meeting. The Planning Board’s recommendation will eventually go on to the City Council for its consideration.
The request to postpone the Board’s vote was emailed to the planning board today by developer Jim Brady, CPB2. Brady told the board this evening that on Friday the official Report from the HP Board, Deb Andrews, HP Program Manager, was distributed – at the start of a long holiday weekend. Some of the material contained therein was new to CPB2 CPB2 needed more time to digest the material it had not previously seen that focused on building no. 1. Brady said he would also like his structural consulting firm, Becker Structural Engineers, Inc., to conduct a more thorough “structural” review of building number 1 to respond to the new material presented by Deb Andrews. One is the only building with which Brady and the HP Board disagree on its status. The HP Board believes it should be a “contributing” building and Brady believes it should be a “non-contributing” building.
It appears that the tenacious Andrews may have been acting more as an advocate for her view rather than in her professional role as Program Manager in submitting the new material last Friday. It can be a thin line between the two and it’s important to keep them separate. What do you think?
John Turk, of the HP Board, told the planning board that he would prefer there be no postponement of its decision as requested by Brady that would permit Brady to provide additional information as did the HP Board. Turk said the HP Board had gone through a lengthy process of its own to prepare its recommendation. However, planning board acting chair Elizabeth Boepple said that when the new Becker report is completed, the HP Board should review it and consider the new information in another recommendation; an idea that Turk resisted.
The October 27th date was set to give ample time for the Becker report to be prepared (expected to be two weeks) and go to the HP Board before coming back to the planning board, once again.
Critics of historic designations site excessive costs to projects, time delays, sometimes lack of adequate oversight, and the suppression of creativity.
Other members of the HP Board were present as well as members of the “Souls” – a band of NIMBY’s based on Munjoy Hill devoted to preventing the redevelopment of the almost ten acres of waterfront property at 58 Fore Street. Brady purchased the property from Phin Sprague, Jr.,of Portland Yacht Services, for redevelopment several years ago. Sprague has since built ‘New Yard’ – on the western end of Commercial Street.