The lead editorial in the Press Herald of Feb. 21 claims that “critics of Portland’s ‘midtown’ misread appeals process” by contesting the Planning Board’s approvals of the massive development.

On the contrary, appeals of misguided approvals like this one are precisely what Rule 80B of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure was designed for.

Essentially, the paper would have us roll over and play dead. To what end? So the countless hours of Bayside residents and city planners to craft standards that represent neighborhood and Portland values could be overturned by the politics of the moment, without a whimper?

We of Keep Portland Livable know what the process consisted of. We attended all 14 Planning Board hearings and workshops since this version of midtown was unveiled in January 2013. By contrast, the Press Herald attended perhaps four. We observed the torrent of waivers, and we saw the pass given to required documentation of neighborhood impacts, and the absence of hard questions or demands of this favored developer.

But process does not equal results. From start to finish, the changes to this million-plus-square-foot project have been minimal: making one garage 2 feet narrower, raising the Bayside Trail by 2 feet and Somerset Street by 2 feet. None of those changes came about because of Planning Board or Press Herald prodding; all of them followed interventions by the public, Portland Trails or Keep Portland Livable.

We hired a lawyer last spring only after the Planning Board left 83- and 92-foot high walls standing in specified view corridors where city standards require “minimal intrusion,” despite public support for the standards.

Developers will increasingly flock to Portland as our reputation for livability spreads. Perhaps our court appeal will encourage these developers to come to the city prepared with more “Portland-friendly” designs.

Tim Paradis


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