Councilors spar over formula business delay

PORTLAND — The City Council approved a measure Monday that will require new or renovated buildings that either belong to the city or are somehow funded by the city to get green building certification.

The city’s Green Building Code was created by the council’s Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee. It requires buildings greater than 5,000 square feet with a total cost of more than $250,000 to be certified to the silver standard for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The buildings also have to be in line with the LEED standards for the Architecture 2030 challenge, a response to global warming.

The new city rule will be applied to new city buildings or during renovation of city buildings. It will also be required of any new building or renovation in the city receiving any sort of city funding, including grants and tax breaks.

Formula business decision forced

In an unusual move, Councilor Dan Skolnik Monday night put a measure before the council to force the Business Diversity Task Force to report its findings to the council by June 1.

Skolnik, who has expressed frustration with the task force’s inability to finish its business in the past, said the group is stalled and is going in circles despite reviewing and voting on dozens of suggested ways to regulate formula or chain businesses in the city’s downtown.

He said task force meetings devolve back to the initial debate over whether formula businesses should be regulated and that the group has not met since January.

“The last two meetings we have not been able to hold,” said Skolnik, who is a task force member. He added that the task force was established 25 months ago.

Councilor Cheryl Leeman, a chairwoman of the task force, took issue with Skolnik’s request and said she was unaware of his desire to have the task force finish up and report back. 

Skolnik had said he tried to get in touch with task force leadership and had sent an e-mail expressing his desire to move forward. In the March 13 message from Skolnik to task force members, he said it’s time “simply to call the question.”

“This has taken an all-time low and become personal,” said Leeman, responding to Skolnik. She added that she is not going to accuse a “certain member” of the task force with pushing his own agenda.

Councilors, however, voted 5-4 to instruct the task force to report to the council by June 1. Councilors John Anton, Kevin Donoghue, Dave Marshall and Leeman were opposed. Councilors Nick Mavodones, Dory Waxman and John Coyne and Mayor Jill Duson voted with Skolnik.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]


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