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September 15, 2017

Fishermen balk at Portland's accelerating waterfront development

Photo / James McCarthy
Photo / James McCarthy
Several development projects planned along Portland's waterfront have prompted more than 90 lobstermen, fishermen and waterfront business owners to sign a petition stating that the developments will jeopardize traditional uses.

More than 90 lobstermen, fishermen and waterfront business owners signed a petition that said planned developments along Portland's waterfront will jeopardize traditional uses.

The Portland Press Herald reported the petition was organized by lobsterman Willis Spear, who berths his lobster boat on Custom House Wharf, and was sent to the Portland Planning Board in July.

According to projections provided by the petitioners, about $150 million worth of lobster and groundfish and $141 million worth of bait fish are trucked out of the city's wharves every year.

"I'm afraid the city of Portland doesn't recognize the value of the fishing industry they have," Steve Train, a lobsterman from Long Island, told the newspaper.

The petition cited four new development proposals — condominium-hotel at the former Rufus Deering Lumber site; the redevelopment of 58 Fore St., the former Portland Co. property on the eastern waterfront; a hotel, office and parking garage planned at 184 Commercial St. on Fisherman's Wharf; and a three-building mixed office, retail and restaurant development on Union Wharf — as the basis for the fishermen's concerns

The issues are not new, Portland's waterfront coordinator Bill Needelman told the newspaper.

"Since the 1980s there has been a constant evolution of waterfront zoning in Portland. I don't expect that is going to change," he said.

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