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July 25, 2017

Portland's rezoning of Camelot Farm allows more homes to be built ... unless it's overturned

Courtesy / CBRE | The Boulos Company and Maine Imaging The old Camelot Farm property includes more than 2,000 feet along Westbrook Street and 1,500 feet along the Stroudwater River in Portland.

A proposed single-home subdivision for Camelot Farm in Portland’s Stroudwater neighborhood gained City Council approval for a zoning change that will allow the developers to build 95 homes there while preserving 24 acres as open space for public use and access.

The Portland Press Herald reported that city councilors voted 5-4 Monday for the rezoning proposal that was unanimously recommended by the city’s Planning Board. Mayor Ethan Strimling voted against the proposal, saying it didn’t sufficiently advance the city’s goal of creating more affordable housing. 

The change will allow Camelot Holdings LLC, an investor group with a contract to buy the 45-acre farm at 1700 Westbrook St., to build roughly 15 more homes than existing zoning rules would allow by reducing the individual lot sizes. Without the rezoning change, the newspaper reported, the minimum lot size would be 15,000 square feet and the opportunity for creating open space would be diminished.

The Camelot Farm project still needs subdivision and site plan approval from the city, the newspaper reported.

Citizens seek veto power

A referendum campaign seeking to give Portland neighborhoods a greater voice in rezoning proposals such as the one approved Monday night faces an Aug. 7 deadline to collect 1,500 signatures for a citywide June 2018 referendum.

If the proponents succeed in getting the measure on the ballot and it passed, it would apply retroactively from May 2017 — thereby putting Monday’s action potentially at risk of being overturned.

As reported in Mainebiz’s current edition, the proposed referendum says that if 25% of registered voters who live or own property within 500 feet of a proposed change object to it, they can stop it from proceeding. A developer could override the objection if 51% of registered voters within 1,000 feet of the disputed zoning change approve the rezoning.

Read more

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NIMBY: Arrested development, as neighborhoods test veto power on zoning decisions

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