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December 18, 2018

Portland City Council backs temporary halt on waterfront development

Photo / Peter Van Allen A view of the site for the proposed $40 million Fisherman's Wharf mixed-use development project on Portland's Commercial Street.

The Portland City Council on Monday unanimously backed a six-month pause on waterfront development and called for the creation of a task force to study traffic congestion and related issues.

City Manager Jon Jennings proposed the measure last week to impose a 180-day moratorium to most non-marine development within the mixed-use Waterfront Central Zone. The city said it made the proposal in response to “significant overburdening of parking, traffic control and waterfront resources” in the area concerned.

Pier owners and several fisherman’s groups support the moratorium amid concerns over planned projects, including Bateman Partners LLP’s planned $40 million mixed-use development project on Fisherman’s Wharf.

In addition to approving a six-month moratorium on development in the zone, the council is establishing a task force find solutions to traffic congestion and other access issues that fishermen have said jeopardize the viability of Portland’s working waterfront

Bateman Partners said last week that its project is now entering a planning stage, and company president David Bateman said his team has invited fishermen to weigh in on the plan.

City to impose ‘impact fees’

In related news, developers of all new projects in Portland will be subject to new impact fees under an ordinance that takes effect this week. The new rules and regulation, approved last year, will apply to all building and permit applications submitted after Dec. 19.

Under the measure, developers will be subject to impact fees to fund transportation, parks and recreation and wastewater infrastructure that serve the development. Fee amounts will vary by the type of project: For transportation, parks and recreation, the determining factor will be the size and scale of the proposed development, while for wastewater the fee will be based on the size and number of water meters proposed.

For redevelopments, building additions or change of use, a credit will be granted for existing uses or water meters on site, and the fee will be calculated based on the difference between the old and new use.

“Impact fees are widely used across the country, as well as here in Maine, as a means of requiring that growth ‘pay its own way,’” Jennings said in a statement. “We believe that impact fees will allow the city to plan for sustainable growth well into the future.”

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