Portland councilor expects revised plans for Munjoy Hill condos

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PORTLAND — City Councilor Belinda Ray said Tuesday she expects progress to be made by the end of the month on the proposed Sheridan Street condominiums below Fort Sumner Park.

“I think they have definitely heard the objections,” Ray said after meeting with Massachusetts developer Bernie Saulnier and his team of consultants on the proposed project.

The “objections” are focused on whether a proposed 34-unit condominium project can block views from Fort Sumner Park, which extends from North Street to a promontory above Sheridan Street.

Saulnier, who has built subdivisions in York County, said last month he is an intermediary for Massachusetts-based Vazza Real Estate Group, and was going to “make a stab at scaling the building down.”

Revised plans could be ready by the end of the month, Ray said, but are likely to be discussed at a private meeting she expects to attend with city officials and members of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization Board of Directors.

MHNO President Jay Norris said the proposed six-story development was not discussed at Monday’s monthly meeting, but he also expects to meet by the end of the month, before developers file any plans with the city.

Concerns that the panoramic view across Back Cove could be blocked by the development have led to petition drives by members of Save Fort Sumner Park, as well as an effort to have the park declared a historic landmark.

Six city residents, including former state legislators Anne Rand and Herb Adams, have sent a letter stating their opposition to the project to the city Historic Preservation Board.

“We would like to see the view preserved in entirety, the experience of visiting it undiminished, and signage providing the Fort’s history and points of interest in the view located in the park,” the letter said.

City Historic Preservation Program Manager Deb Andrews said the letter will be presented as part of public comment at the Historic Preservation Board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

The park would have to be nominated for landmark status by an HPD member, then recommended as a landmark by a board vote before a City Council public hearing and vote on the recommendation

Ray said her compromise to sell city land next to the 153-165 Sheridan St. parcel eyed by developers – which would allow the same capacity for housing while keeping building heights from blocking the park view – proved to be impractical.

“The parcel the city owns is even steeper,” she said. “I was hopeful that would be a solution, but I don’t think that will be a route forward either.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

A private meeting between developers, neighbors and Portland city officials on revised plans for development next to Fort Sumner Park is expected later this month.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.