By a vote of 8 – 1, the city council voted late this evening to approve an amendment to the waterfront port development zone that permits Americold to construct a monster size cold storage warehouse on the western waterfront. West end residents were not opposed to the construction of the building, but wanted it to be built at 55 ft.
The only city councilor to vote against the amendment was Spencer Thibodeau, District 11, who said that answers to the questions asked for had not been received. Adequate justification for the 75 ft. height was not forthcoming. Probably because there is no justification for Americold. The justification is that It’s the height increase that Phin Sprague, Jr., of New Yard needs to accommodate his new boat lift – a deal long in the making between Sprague and the forever way too long-winded Councilor Nick Mavadones. Should Mavadones, operations manager, for Casco Bay Ferries, have recused himself? (At the least the notoriously loquacious Mavadones should have cut his remarks by about 2/3. It’s painful to listen to him go on and on saying nothing simultaneously.) Since relocating to the western waterfront from the eastern waterfront, it has been the goal of Sprague to construct a building tall enough to service ferries docked in Portland Harbor he has told mhn.com on numerous occasions in the past. Now he has it without taking any heat. He’s been there and done that before.
A long list of supporters of the ordinance spoke in support of it, but none of them addressed the justification for the height increase to 75 ft. requested by the city’s planning board on several occasions – a point emphasized by west end resident Anne Pringle. Again, Americold cannot justify the height – they don’t need to do that. Roseanne Graef said that the attitude of the parties was “disheartening. They began a campaign to get their way. That included distributing misinformation….In order for me to win, you have to loose.” Tom Robinson asked: “Is it worth passing on costs to neighbors to please Americold?” Constance Bloomberg observed that under this arrangement the city will have no control over pollution and quality of life issues.
Councilor David Brennerman said: “We can’t compete with other communities..lack of cold storage is impeding growth in Maine…needs to be of a size that generates revenue.”