Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street, where it’s crazy hot, and not looking much better tomorrow.
What we’re talking about
A tentative proposal for a new condo complex on Munjoy Hill has residents worried that the construction project would block views of the Back Cove from a neighborhood park, touching on a nerve still tender from last year’s controversy over water views on Fore Street.
The Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization was recently presented with a proposal to put a new building on the wooded lot at 155 Sheridan St., the group’s president, Jay Norris, told BDN Portland. Norris said that the building would be 60 feet tall and “wipe out a massive scenic view from [Fort] Sumner Park.
“We’re hoping this will not develop into another major controversy [like] the 58 Fore Street debate and referendum last year,” said Norris.
A hand-drawn sign in the park on Thursday evening warned, “This park’s vista of Back Bay is in jeopardy … voice your opposition.”
No proposal has been filed for that site with the city, but a developer met with officials for a pre-application consultation in June, Portland spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said. The lot is zoned for residential buildings and has a height limit of 45 feet, but assessing whether a building breaches that threshold is made complex by the steeply sloping land on the proposed site, Grondin said.
The condo proposal is being presented by Saulnier Development, according to Norris, who said that the Neighborhood Organization is open to finding a compromise that works for all parties and the developer seemed to be willing to work them.
But John Seavey, who has lived in a small red bungalow at the corner of Sheridan St. and Walnut St. for the last 30 years, said he’s fed up with new housing going up on Munjoy Hill that most Portland residents can’t afford.
“An average, hard-working person can’t even live on this hill anymore,” said Seavey. — Jake Bleiberg
Portland won’t enforce zoning violation complaints over AirBNB — City Manager Jon Jennings said yesterday that the city will not take action on zoning complaints against short-term rental units, like AirBNB listings, until the City Council solidifies its policy around them, the Press Herald reported.
The Press Herald’s Peter McGuire writes:
The problem is that city staff is trying to enforce rules created far before the advent of online rentals, Jennings told the committee Wednesday.
“Innovation has gotten ahead of us in terms of our current ordinances,” he said.
No, you can’t take a cab to Peaks Island — Sam Hill, writing for Dispatch, spoke with a number of Uber and taxi drivers to learn what behavior they think is unacceptable for riders.
“Someone called for a ride to Peaks Island once and it took some explaining to them to understand why I wasn’t going to pull my cab onto the ferry and make the whole trip.”
“No, you can’t smoke in my car. No, not just this once. No, not ever.”
Six Black Lives Matters protesters plead not guilty — Six of the eighteen Black Lives Matters protesters arrested last month have entered not guilty pleas, according to WGME.
The Big Idea
How Maine quietly handed off financial oversight of a $23M program for infants — The BDN’s Erin Rhoda writes:
Dozens of interviews and documents show what led to a no-bid contract funded entirely with public dollars: a closed decision-making process, the state’s questionable justification to avoid competitive bidding, and limited communication about the transfer of a multimillion-dollar state program to the nonprofit sector. The circumstances raise questions about transparency and accountability.
One observer said he had “never seen anything like this” in the decades he has worked in and with state government, and to make changes in such secrecy was “unbelievable.”
Correction: A previous version of the lead item did not state the full name of the park. It is Fort Sumner Park.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @dsmacleod.
As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.