Councilor seeks postponement on Sheridan St. moratorium vote to Nov. 21

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PORTLAND – A public hearing and City Council vote on a Munjoy Hill building moratorium is expected to be postponed to Nov. 21.

District 1 Councilor Belinda Ray, the sponsor of a 60-day moratorium on accepting plans or permit applications to build at 155 Sheridan St., said she will seek the postponement when councilors meet at 5 p.m. Nov. 7 in City Hall.

Ray said she would like to delay the hearing and vote because she does not want City Clerk Katherine Jones or other city staff to be working too late the night before Election Day, Nov. 8.

The moratorium was accepted without comment on a first read at the Oct. 17 meeting, when Ray was unable to attend.

No plans have been filed with the city yet, but Massachusetts developers, including Bernie Saulnier, have expressed interest in building a 34-unit condominium complex on Sheridan Street, which sits below Fort Sumner Park.

Preliminary plans project the condominiums would extend into the view across Back Cove from the park, which extends from North Street.

The most recent sketch plans shared by local attorney Patrick Venne show a reduced incursion, which, he said, would now only affect about 1.25 percent of the view looking north.

Ray said early last month the moratorium on accepting or acting on plans or permit applications for development at the site are needed to allow the council and city officials time to find ways to protect the view entirely.

The City Council and Historic Preservation Board have been petitioned to protect the park and its views, including requests to make the park a historic site. Ray has also suggested strengthening Planning Board review requirements to more fully consider the effects of proposed construction next to public land.

At the Oct. 17 meeting, Councilor Jill Duson successfully sought to postpone the hearing and vote on a package of new regulations recommended by the Housing Committee she leads. Those measures will also be discussed and voted on Nov. 21.

Councilors are still expected to hold a hearing and vote on the new “benchmarking” amendments to City Code Chapter 6 sponsored by Councilor Jon Hinck.

The ordinance amendments would require owners of commercial buildings of more than 20,000 square feet or residential buildings of 50 or more units to report annual data on energy and water consumption.

At the Oct. 17 meeting, Councilor Ed Suslovic unsuccessfully sought to postpone the hearing and vote on benchmarking to Nov. 21 as well.

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

Attorney Patrick Venne, who works with developers looking to build condominiums on Sheridan Street, said the revised project plans would affect only the circled area seen in the view from adjacent Fort Sumner park.

Visitors enjoy the Oct. 6 sunset at Fort Sumner Park in Portland. A council hearing and vote on a proposed moratorium on building next to the park will likely be postponed to Nov. 21.

Portland City Councilor Belinda Ray.

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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.