Last night, after almost three hours of public testimony, the Portland planning board decided to postpone its vote on whether or not to recommend to the City Council to rezone the historic Williston-West Church on the west end of Portland. The decision making meeting was rescheduled for Tuesday, May 29th at 7 pm at city hall. The reason given for the postponement was the lateness of the hour when the testimony was completed and the substantial amount of work left to be done by the planning board before it could be forwarded on to the city council for final action.
Rezoning of the space would permit Dr. Frank Monsour, an Australian surgeon, to establish limited office space for his start-up technology business and construct three residential units on site. (One for his family, one possibly for his in-laws and one for the property caretaker.) Off-site parking would be rented for the office staff by the company. Mary Costigan, attorney for the applicant said that this proposal is not excessively intrusive on the neighborhood and it also fits in with the city’s comprehensive plan because it does preserve the architectural and historical heritage of a historical building in the west end of Portland.
Almost double the number of opponents testified against the rezoning application than in favor of it – unlike in the past when the testifiers were more evently divided between the two points of view. Chairman Carol Morrisette asked that testifiers please stick to subjects related to the comprehensive plan or to introduce “new thoughts” into testimony, because the planning board has already heard and read substantial testimony on the rezoning application. However, several testifiers had difficulty restraining themselves and in one case harsh words were exchanged between testifier, former City Councilor and attorney Orlando DeLogue, and the planning board. DeLogue and Anne Pringle, former City Councilor, have been outspoken opponents of the rezoning since the application was filed earlier this year.
Dr. Monsour, 74, who appeared at the planning board meeting on April 24th said he would return to Portland when the matter goes before the City Council – presumably next month.
City Councilor for District 11, David Marshall, said this afternoon at the Farmer’s Market in Monument Square: “I’m waiting for the recommendation from the planning board before I make a decision.”
Please see Post # 1,126, dated 4/25/12 and Post # 1,002, dated 3/14/12 herein for more details.