At a recent South Portland City Council meeting, the first agenda item was a local business asking that an abutting property, currently zoned residential, be changed to industrial for use by their business. Neighbors were also there, expressing their concerns and needs related to this change. This longtime local business was told to go to the Planning Board, to go through the regular and lawful process of changing current zoning. So all parties involved will move through the process together and before the change is made.

That is not what happened in my residential neighborhood in South Portland. Without my knowledge or consultation, much less permission, a commercial business moved in and established itself across the street.

And I am not alone. This has happened on dozens of streets, particularly in one neighborhood: Willard Beach. As citizens, we went to the City Council and asked that the situation be rectified. Codes were ignored. Property rights were denied. And no one was involved in the lawful process before the businesses (unhosted short-term rentals) moved in.

City councilors listened to both sides. Compromises were made, and maybe more compromises can be made for long-term local residents. That’s another letter. The recent “ban” is aimed at stopping unattended mini-hotels from opening in purely residential zones, owned by people who are not part of the neighborhood.

And now, these commercial businesses are using the people’s referendum process to gather signatures all over South Portland to appeal the City Council decision and force me to coexist with a lucrative business that never went through the lawful process meant to protect citizens. The man promoting this petition (Michael Frabotta) says he doesn’t want his property rights abridged. He talks about a ridiculous hypothetical banning of buzzsaws.

My actual property rights have already been abridged. There is nothing hypothetical about the Henry Street Hotel.

Louise Tate

South Portland

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