Me. DEP Approves Changes to “WCZ” Zoning; City Council Approved 12/20/10

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 773)

Late last week the Maine Department of Environmental Protection gave its approval to Portland’s request  for zoning changes under the Shoreland Zoning program.  The City requested the state’s approval to the zoning text amendments that the city council  approved on December 20th, 2010.   This was the last in a series of hurdles that a group of three representatives of the Waterfront Central  Zone, (“WCZ”)  had to jump over in order to obtain their request for a relaxation of zoning requirements. 

The request for the zoning text amendments first came to light on October 27 of 2009 when three representatives of the fifteen wharf owners within that location, appeared before the city’s planning board seeking a relaxation of the zoning regulations as they stood at the time.   The three were Dick Ingalls, Steve DiMillo and Charlie Poole. It wasn’t until last December that the city council by a vote of 7-2 approved the zoning text amendent.  The two city council members who voted against the relaxation of regulations were Greens, Kevin Donoghue and David Marshall.  The third Green on the Council, John Anton, who tried vigorously who dilute the amendments, voted in favor of the changes. 

“Today’s announcement marks the end of the successful plananing process and the beginning of new opportunity for the city’s waterfront,” stated City of Portland Mayor Nicholas Mavodones.  “We appreciate the time of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection took to both provide input during the planning process as well as review and grant approval to our amendment request.”

“For more than 20 years, Portland has strived to strike the right balance between protecting the character defining maritime uses that we love with other development that increasingly characterizes the city’s new economy.  We sought equilibrium by creating a mixed-use waterfront that supports our maine-based industries and as a result have created a dynamic waterfront that values the many industries for which our piers are their lifelines.  It goes without saying that we are proud of the city’s waterfront and the local policies that support it,” the Mayor said according to a press release issued by the city on May 6th.

Portland’s Central Waterfront, located west of the Maine State Pier and east of the International Marine Terminal, is home to fiteen piers, dozens of marine and non-marine businesses and is the center of the region’s fishing economy.  Bill Needleman, senior planner, for the city’s planning office, was the staff person responsible and continues to work inventoring the uses and properties in the WCZ.  This baseline will allow ongoing monitoring of changes in the zone for reporting to the city council.  The results of the use inventory will be posted on the City’s website as available. 

For more background information herein, please see posts # 662, dated December 21, 2010 and # 312, dated October 28th 2009 and the other many posts in between.