South Portland council enacts Mill Creek zoning changes

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council on Monday unanimously approved zoning amendments for the Mill Creek neighborhood that focus on creating a more pedestrian-friendly area.

The amendments include three new districts for mixed residential and commercial development, with the intention of cultivating places that feel more like neighborhoods. The area is now mostly larger-scale commercial buildings and parking lots. 

Increased housing density is another change, along with the uses and types of businesses and buildings that can be built in the neighborhood. Allowances have been expanded to include, for example, public assembly and community gathering places such as churches, museums and schools.

“We hope (the changes) will go along with public capital investments in our streetscapes and gateways in Mill Creek to incentivize the private sector to make more investments in their properties,” Planning and Development Director Tex Haueser said at the Nov. 7 meeting.

Hopefully, Haueser said, the new zoning will also “get rid of some of the parking lots that we see in Mill Creek and bring in new services and new residents to the area, as a revitalized downtown neighborhood for South Portland.”

This set of zoning amendments, when first brought to the council in October, had been proposed in conjunction with energy benchmarking proposals that would require some buildings owners in Mill Creek to report their annual energy use.

The amendments approved Monday did not include the new standards for reporting energy use, but Mayor Tom Blake said after the meeting that benchmarks will still probably be considered by the council separately this winter. 

The benchmarking proposal would require Mill Creek owners of buildings that are more than 10,000 square feet, or with 10 or more residential units, to publicly report the amount of energy each building uses a year. 

The hope is that benchmarking will increase awareness and reduce energy use.

The Portland City Council on Monday approved an energy benchmarking requirement that would affect 225 commercial properties, 19 residential properties and 40 municipal buildings.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.