The Planning Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to support a proposal that would protect the panoramic view from a popular park in Portland’s East End.

The vote followed a public hearing about whether to support a proposal to cap building heights on developable land next to Fort Sumner Park on North Street. The proposal comes after residents organized against a proposed condominium development that would have blotted out a sweeping view of the city, Back Cove and Mount Washington.

The board recommendation will now go to the City Council, which has final say on zoning changes.

The board vote to cap building heights near Fort Sumner Park is a milestone for city residents, who have been lobbying the city since August to take action against a six-story condominium project on Sheridan Street. The developer, Bernie Saulnier of Saco, scaled back his proposal on several occasions in an effort to address neighborhood concerns and avoid a building moratorium and further zoning regulations.

After the City Council enacted a moratorium, city planners worked to establish an overlay zone to protect a 180-degree vista as viewed from a specific point on the park’s viewing platform.

Rather than a specific building height throughout the new zone, the proposal would establish a minimum setback of 15 feet for the overlook and set the maximum height of any structure, including mechanical systems and elevator shafts, at roughly 160 feet above sea level, which is the height of the park platform. The maximum building height within a 200-foot radius would be reduced by 1 foot for every 25 feet of distance from the base point on the viewing platform.

Randy Billings can be contacted at:

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