As Portland residents, small-business owners and parents, we believe in our city, its people and its enormous potential.

We have the opportunity to capture an incredible energy that will set Portland apart from other cities, helping us to attract new, diverse people and businesses.

But it won’t happen by accident. And it won’t happen if we make poor decisions that tell people they aren’t welcome here, that their ideas aren’t worthwhile or that we don’t want to change.

In November, Portland voters will be asked to consider a new ordinance that could halt responsible and sustainable growth in our city and have negative consequences for every neighborhood.

Question 2 on Portland’s Nov. 3 ballot transparently targets a great project – the redevelopment of the Portland Co. at 58 Fore St. – but the consequences of the referendum are much more far-reaching than one singular development proposal.

This ordinance will have unintended consequences that will hurt every neighborhood in Portland.

The ordinance has broad reach and could affect the ability of a homeowner to put up a fence or improve their landscaping. It could stop businesses from installing new, high-efficiency heating or air conditioning units on their roofs or even keep them from adding a flagpole.

The referendum is unnecessary and goes too far.

And if it passes, it will be used to block good projects, like the Portland Co. and others, that would preserve historic buildings, add much-needed housing in the city and increase access to the working waterfront.

Proponents of this ordinance say they aren’t against new development, but the fact is that their referendum could be used as a tool by anyone who opposes almost any change in our city.

If this ordinance had been in place at the time, it could have been used to block or delay new industry along Portland’s waterfront, including the new Eimskip facility, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute or even the Portland Fish Exchange

Large cranes and trucks are critical to international shipping, but it would have taken only one “affected property owner” or 20 people signing a petition to delay recent waterfront projects.

Portland’s working waterfront matters to us, and it matters to the thousand of people who make their living on it. If we want to protect Portland’s working waterfront, we can’t enact ordinances that keep people and jobs away from it.

We know many of the people who support this referendum. They are good people. But on this issue, we believe that they are wrong.

Portland has a great tradition of citizen involvement in development decisions. Public hearings are packed. The process is thorough and long, and everyone who wants to participate gets a chance to contribute.

Numerous volunteers and community leaders have worked over the years to ensure that Portland takes a strong regulatory approach, to make sure our city grows in a smart and sustainable way. But in this case, opponents of the 58 Fore St. project want to upend that careful process – and in doing so they have proposed an ordinance that could hurt us all.

Maine needs to continue to attract the best and brightest to live and work in our beautiful state. Portland is the heart of Maine’s economy, and we want families to move here.

But rents are too high and there is not enough housing to meet demand. The Portland Co. project will provide much-needed housing – and it provides even more: It will give everyone access to the waterfront.

Everyone, no matter what their current income level or living arrangement, will have access to not just fantastic views of the water, but also gain the ability to walk down to the water.

As residents of Portland, we find that vision incredibly exciting and appealing.

But this proposed referendum would block all of that. We urge voters to reject this referendum, and vote “no” on Question 2 in November.

This is a pivotal point for Portland. Our city needs us all to work through the fear of change and embrace the idea that Portland can be a world-class city located within one of the most beautiful states in the U.S.

Voting “no” on the referendum is a first step in the right direction.