The Portland City Council voted to reject proposed changes to a large residential development in the North Deering neighborhood, siding with a Planning Board determination that the proposal was inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.
Ridge Development LLC had sought to amend a 2004 zoning agreement that, as originally approved, would have allowed the developer to build 98 residential units on 10 acres of land located at 800 to 828 Ocean Ave.
The company sought to reduce the number of units in the renamed Casco Heights condominium community from 98 to 96 and lower the maximum height of the buildings, but also significantly expand the footprint of the development. The revised project would feature one-, two- and three-bedroom units sold at market-price and would conserve 8 acres of open space.
While staff within Portland’s Planning Department recommended approval of the amendments to the 2004 agreement, the majority of members of the city Planning Board agreed with neighbors about the scale and compatibility of the revised project in a neighborhood that has changed since 2004.
Diane Doyle, representing Ridge Development, said the revisions were actually intended to make the project more attractive and environmentally responsible, pointing out that the original plan would have allowed her to cut down many more trees. But after a lengthy discussion, the City Council voted 5-4 to reject the requested changes.
Councilor Cheryl Leeman said she supported the controversial 2004 plan because of the concept of preserving open space. But she said the latest proposal was “clearly, clearly inconsistent” with the zoning.
But Nicholas Mavodones, who also served on the council in 2004, said he believed the Planning Board erred when it determined that the requested revisions were inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan. And while he said he understood the neighbors’ concerns about the impacts on their corner of the city, such concerns pop up any time major development projects are proposed.
“I think the amendments will (result) in a better project in the long run,” Mavodones said.
Councilors rejected Mavodones’ request to refer the issue back to the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee before voting to reject the proposed revisions.