Politics

September 11, 2013

Plan to curb protesters outside Portland clinics advances

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters exchange words in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic at 443 Congress St. in Portland in January. City councilors decided Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 to schedule a hearing on a proposal to shield women from protesters who gather outside the Planned Parenthood offices downtown.

2013 Press Herald File Photo / John Patriquin

The court cases cited in the memo apply to buffer zones of 15 to 35 feet, but a 35-foot zone in front of Planned Parenthood would leave a small area on Congress Street available to protesters, so it was extended by 4 feet, McAllister said.

The 39-foot buffer could leave a small area on Elm Street where protesters could gather, so the committee directed the city's staff Tuesday to expand the zone to eliminate that area.

Although McAllister said the city has a strong case should any buffer zone be challenged in court, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the Massachusetts law would void Portland's ordinance, she said. "There's no doubt about it."

Committee members told people in the crowd that the city is methodically building a public record that includes patients' testimony, police actions and committee deliberations so the buffer zone can withstand a court challenge.

"You clearly drafted this with great caution," said Councilor Jill Duson. "I like this."

Also Tuesday, the committee unanimously recommended changes to the city's regulations for food trucks to make it easier to do business in Portland.

The changes would allow food trucks to cluster in certain zones by eliminating a rule that trucks be at least 65 feet from each other. And operators would have to pay only $30 for a permit to operate on private property, rather than $105.

The committee also was open to the idea of opening up more city-owned land to food truck operators, including Compass Park, the Eastern Promenade and the Western Promenade, but requested more details from city staff.

 

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@pressherald.com

Twitter: @randybillings

 

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