WCZ Proposed Zoning Changes Stalled in Committee; Scrapped from City Council Agenda for 8/16

Willis Spears, who organized the petition, at last night's CDC Meeting

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 526)

Call  it stalling while John Anton goes on his own summer tme fishing trip,  because for the second time the CDC has decided it needs more  information  before it can give a thumbs up to the City Council on the proposed text amendment proposed by a consortium of pier owners which began in 2008.   That additional delay means that the matter which was to go before the city council on Monday, August 16 will be scrapped from its agenda for an indefinite period of time.

On July 20th, 70 lobstermen signed a hand-written petition and delivered it to the city hall.  It protested some of the changes proposed by pier owners.  About a dozen fishermen showed up at city hall to present their case. Willis Spears, who organized the petition drive last month,  said prior to the meeting that “no one was listening to us.  This petition got the public’s attention.”  Chris Dazet,  another lobsterman,  said:  “Marine use and yacht use don’t go together.  They don’t like the smell of rotting bait and noisy fishermen leaving early in the morning.  It won’t work,” referring to a proposal to allow more “pleasure ” boats to dock on the waterfront.  Dazet also said:  “We are afraid of being displaced and our rents will go sky high.  We need a break.”  

Steve DiMillo, DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant and Marina said:  “We are dissecting this so that nothing will get done.  We should go back to the basic concepts in our original letter.”  The pier owners did not include a proposal for residential building on the piers.  That proposal was included by the Portland Society of Architects,  represented by Constance Blackfield and Paul Stevens.

Following the meeting,  former Portland Mayor,  Anne Pringle,  said:  “We are just starting to ask the questions that need to be asked.  The Planning Board didn’t even ask any questions at their meeting.”   She went on to say:  “I’m from Rhode Island.  We don’t want to have happen here what happened in Newport.  There are condos, restaurants and boutiques all mixed in together.  We don’t want that on Portland’s waterfront.”

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, there was a non-profit called the Working Waterfront.   It was a feisty group with many of the members living on the Hill.  While the group appears to have disbanded because of a lack of their attendance at city meetings,  Ms Pringle and Barbara Vestal, an attorney from the Hill,  continue to represent the goals of the Working Waterfront at city meetings.   

Please see Post # 529, dated July 21st  for more background information.