I am writing to express my concern at the lack of consistency between the city’s words and its deeds regarding housing in Greater Portland.

On Dec. 21, the City Council will be voting on the rezoning of the Elks Lodge property on outer Congress Street from residential to office park.

Given the city’s limited supply of residential-zoned property, voting to remove 7 acres from the pool of such property in Portland – as recommended by the Planning Board – seems to be inconsistent with the city’s stated desire for more housing.

Recently, Mayor Ethan Strimling announced his desire for a significant increase in new housing, and the city’s comprehensive plan calls for more residential development. Voting to uphold the Planning Board’s recommendation would run counter to the mayor’s stated goal and the comprehensive plan.

Last month, developer Josh Benthien of Northland Enterprises told the Portland Press Herald that “the numbers just don’t shake out” to support constructing housing on the site. However, an article in the Dec. 9 Press Herald announcing the sale of three local apartment complexes for $50 million (or $162,000 per unit) to Chestnut Realty doesn’t support his claim regarding the limited economic feasibility of residential construction.

If the council votes to uphold the Planning Board recommendation, then I’d like to understand how the city plans to increase the housing supply in Portland while at the same time reducing the amount of land available for housing.

John Sommer

Portland