Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Future of Portland’s waterfront at stake.

Outgoing Planning Board member John Anton has told City officials that he will organize a ‘People’s Veto’ if the Portland City Council votes in favor of changing the zoning on the waterfront to allow non-marine uses, including possibly a hotel to be built on the City-owned Maine State Pier. That vote will be taken at the Council’s August 7th meeting. The Planning Board voted unanimously on July 25th against the rezoning.

Anton resigned from the Planning Board in late June. His resignation takes effect September 1st. He cited personal and professional commitments as the reason for his resignation, but in his letter to the Portland City Council, he said that the City’s planning staff was being undermined by “archaic protocols and ambiguous statutes.”

A People’s Veto would request that the City Council repeal the decision to change the waterfront zoning (if the Council approves that change on August 7th). If the Council refuses to repeal the decision, the issue would be put out to the voters in a special election within 60 to 120 days. A People’s Veto requires the signatures of 1500 registered City voters to be collected within 30 days of the upcoming City Council vote. Anton has enlisted an attorney to assist in the procedure and has already begun preliminary organizing of signature gatherers for the petition.

The issue could become a major one in the upcoming City Council races this fall. Both challengers for City Council seats on the peninsula (Districts 1 and 2)- David Marshall and Kevin Donoghue -have expressed strong opposition to the zoning change and support for the People’s Veto.

Anton said that the goal of the People’s Veto would be to restore appropriate public process to City officials’ decision-making. He said that he thought that the City Council’s Community Development Committee, which is proposing the changes, did not come to the same conclusions as the public would in regard to the future of the waterfront. Councilors Cloutier, Mavodones and Duson sit on that committee. Anton also said that he hopes that the Council rejects the changes on August 7th, negating the need for the People’s Veto.

The latest issue of the West End NEWS will be on the street TONIGHT!


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