South Portland committee seeks input on Knightville

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SOUTH PORTLAND —The city’s Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee is updating its recommendations for Knightville and wants public on issues such as business attraction, design standards, and historic preservation.

Tex Haeuser, the city’s planning director, said community participation has been very high at the monthly meetings.

“There been a strong emphasis on public participation,” he said. 

An online survey about the city’s historic downtown is available on the city website through July in hopes of collecting broad feedback about the neighborhood. 

A second survey will be released in the future to build off answers to the initial responses. 

Haeuser said the 20 questions are mostly open-ended and are divided into four sections for residents and nonresidents, as well as businesses and those looking to invest in the community. 

The project will update the neighborhood’s land-use policies and recommendations for growth. It will also examine existing challenges, such as parking, and coming challenges, specifically rising sea level. 

Topics of discussion at previous meetings included reducing the level of controversy accompanying new development, attracting businesses that would benefit Knightville residents, slowing gentrification and creating workforce housing.

Another area of focus included improving facilities and services for walking, bicycling, transit, and other alternative modes of transportation.

City Councilor Susan Henderson, who has lived in Knightville for 40 years and is a member of the committee, said in a previous interview that she’s seen many gradual changes in the time since she and her husband bought their house on E Street. 

Henderson said the house, built in 1898, was within her family’s economic reach, close to the water, and in a walkable neighborhood. Although at the time not considered a high-status area, it was great for her family, she said. 

The area is now a vibrant art and restaurant scene, and is welcoming new development, such as Big Babe’s Tavern, approved to replace the former Griffin Club on Ocean Street. 

Henderson said in May that the neighborhood’s comprehensive plan, which was adopted in 2005 and focused on creating a mixed-use neighborhood, needs some tweaking, but she is committed to protecting it and its village character. 

Henderson said she anticipates there will pressure to tweak the plan, to make development more feasible. The councilor said parking is also an issue the city will have to address, and she’s also concerned about developers who want to make money off the area without really investing in the community.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661. ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JulietteLaaka.

A South Portland online survey wants to know what people think about the Knightville neighborhood and its future development.

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