The Portland City Council postponed discussion on both a proposed waterfront cold storage warehouse and workforce housing incentives after going far over the scheduled time of a council workshop Monday.

The meeting, with four agenda items, was scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. By 8 p.m., the council had only made it through an update to the design for Congress Square Park and a zoning change for residential housing at Camelot Farm, a 45-acre property on Westbrook Street.

Mayor Ethan Strimling apologized and admitted scheduling a two-hour workshop with four agenda items was ambitious. Most councilors agreed to postpone the other items until August at the latest.

The design for Congress Square Park features sloping levels with a pedestrian plaza and performance stage facing the intersection of Congress and High streets. It includes plans to streamline traffic lanes at the intersection and eliminate a cut-through from High Street to Free Street.

City Manager Jon Jennings said altering the traffic pattern would make the intersection safer for pedestrians, a priority for the Maine Department of Transportation which could provide some project funding.

Most of the council’s time was focused on rezoning the Camelot Farm property to allow for more housing units closer together. The developers, Camelot Holdings LLC, want to put more than 90 home lots on the city’s last family farm. Part of the rezoning includes plans for more than 20 acres of public land that would connect to Portland Trails over the Stroudwater River, City Planning Director Tuck O’Brien said.

While councilors agreed that new housing is needed, some questioned whether the development would be affordable enough. Others, including Councilor Brian Batson, who represents the area, said area residents were concerned about increased traffic and questioned whether development is viable in an area that floods periodically.

The council is expected to debate the zoning change at a meeting later this month.

One item that will be taken up by the council later is a proposal to make affordable housing development more attractive by allowing greater density and increased building heights.

The city already offers some bonuses for building affordable housing but they have had a modest effect on the city’s housing supply, according to the department of planning and urban development. The changes are intended to encourage more housing in certain zones the city has identified for development.

The second item, a proposed zoning change that would allow construction of a large cold storage warehouse on the waterfront, is still being deliberated.

The change would raise the building height limit in an area west of the Casco Bay Bridge from 45 feet to 70 feet. Americold, the company proposing to build the facility, says it needs a taller building to compete with similar warehouses in nearby states.

There has been fierce opposition to the zoning change from a West End neighborhood group. Opponents say they are in favor of a cold storage building, but object to its height.

The planning board will hold a hearing on the zoning amendment next Tuesday and could vote on the zoning change.

Peter McGuire can be reached at 791-6325 or at:

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