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October 11, 2016

Portland official eyes moratorium on controversial East End development

Courtesy / John Stanton, Fort Wiki A section of the view from Fort Sumner Park on North Street in Portland's East End neighborhood. A proposal to build a six-story condominium at the foot of the park's hill at 155 Sheridan St. has raised concerns from many within the community about its impact on the park's scenic views.

In an effort to protect the popular view of Mount Washington and Portland from Fort Sumner Park in the city’s East End neighborhood, City Councilor Belinda Ray says she will request a moratorium on new developments on lots surrounding the public space.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the two-month moratorium would allow the city to decide if it wants to enact height restrictions on the proposed construction of a six-story condominium by Saulnier Development, which has offices in Maine and Massachusetts, or if the city wants to purchase the approximately half-acre plot at 155 Sheridan St. for $1.5 million.

“I’ve said from the beginning, we can’t block that view,” Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling told the Press Herald. “The developer has not yet heard that in a way that satisfies us. Hopefully he will.”

Scaling back

In response to the proposed moratorium, the Bangor Daily News reported that Saulnier Development submitted a scaled-back version of the proposal.

The revision eliminates part of the two top floors of the condominium, preventing some of the loss of the panoramic views that are currently enjoyed by visitors of the park, a move that real estate lawyer and project consultant Patrick Venne hopes will quell the fears of many.

“A moratorium is unnecessary at this juncture because existing procedures have proven not only adequate but exceptionally capable of addressing stated concerns to date,” Venne wrote in a letter to the City Council, according to the BDN.

No plans for the condo project have been officially submitted to city officials and Ray told the BDN that she still plans on recommending the moratorium to the full city council, possibly as soon as its next meeting on Oct. 17.

“I still feel that it infringes upon the open elements in the park too much,” Ray told the BDN.

Photo: John Stanton/Fort Wiki

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