There is considerable debate over whether Maine’s perceived reputation as being “hostile to business” is deserved, but a controversy over a proposed neighborhood grocery store in South Portland isn’t doing that perception any good.

The dispute, which in microcosm reflects larger issues being discussed in Augusta and in other localities around the state, involves opposition to a store proposed for a site near Willard Square that is zoned for commercial use.

The store, to be called Ebo’s Market, is similar to many neighborhood enterprises found all over the state.

The market reportedly meets all current zoning and building requirements for its proposed Pillsbury Street location, which is considered “village commercial” under city ordinances. But because the city never prepared “design standards” for new business ventures there to give the area a uniform appearance, as it has for the Knightville business district, the City Council has bowed to concerns expressed by neighborhood residents and imposed a 95-day moratorium on development.

Appearance is one thing, but complaints have also been received about parking, traffic and “public safety” issues, which may or may not be germane for a project that the city admits meets all current rules.

A limited pause can perhaps be justified, but officials both here and at other levels of government should be aware that there are real dangers involved in putting a retroactive hold on projects where developers have already met existing requirements.

That could easily send a message to entrepreneurs that their plans may be subject to endless revision, making it impossible to forecast the costs of new or expanded enterprises. That path only ends in fewer jobs being created in an economy that will be weaker than it could be.