By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,395)
Last night the Portland Zoning Board of Appeals denied Legacy 18 Development Corporation a variance for a lot the real estate company wants to develop at 5-9 Romasco Lane on Munjoy Hill. This decision, 3 – 1, came despite a letter from Jeff Levine, Director of the City’s Planning and Urban Development office, wrote the Zoning Board of Appeals recommending it grant the relief sought by the applicant. Levine did not attend the meeting yesterday because of another commitment.
When the company purchased the lot for development into condominiums, it used city tax maps to determine the size of the lot and what could be built on the property. The company later realized that the map was inaccurate and the lot size was insufficient to build five condo units on it. (In fact, tax maps are not recommended for this use.) The actual size of the empty lot is only 3,342 sq. ft. – insufficient to build the five (5) units on. George and her business partner were looking for an exception to this – otherwise the development would not be a profitable venture for them – one investor already having backed-out because the profit margin was too slim. George said that the fifth (5) unit would be the source of profit for the company. The Board did not empathize with the situation, saying that the profit MARGIN was not under its jurisdiction.
George said that because the Romasco Lane area is not considered prime development area on Munjoy Hill, the cost of the units would be held down – relative to the rest of the Hill. They compared this development to Marquis Lofts on Lafayette Street in cost – saying they are not building high-end units.
The Board ruled that because it appeared there could be other uses for the same property – like the construction of a single family home – and the failure to build the fifth condominium unit would not cause “significant economic injury” the variance would be denied.
Following the meeting, the two business partners, said they did not know what the next step for them is. There is an appeal process they could pursue.
George could not be reached for additional comment this morning.