As a property owner and longtime resident of Munjoy Hill, I am an invested stakeholder in the future of the neighborhood. Recent events here in the real estate developers’ market have raised my concerns regarding the projected quality of life for the future of the Hill and its residents.

The rampant “tear down and build a money-maker” trend has reached extraordinary proportions, threatening the very essence of the culture and community of the neighborhood. The destruction of, in some cases, soundly built and long-standing buildings has been allowed, and sadly will continue after the moratorium ends. This practice needs close scrutiny and much more study to create a reasonable process that considers the demolition and construction within the context of historical significance and everyday neighborly life on the Hill.

I am appalled by some of the aesthetically deficient box-style constructions, adorned with ice-cold corrugated metal, scrawny stick-like supports, Crayola-color discord and no heartbeat at all. Dead boxes are plopped offensively at the margin of long-existing family homes and apartments. How many more little green growing spaces will be compromised? What about the bright sky, ample air space, broad views of the water, established trees and sunlight, not shadow? What ordinance, judgment or persuasion has allowed the Planning Board to bypass sensible standards of design? What happened to the guidelines that require decision-makers to consider architectural compatibility … mass, scale, design? Those aspects of the design standards seem to have been ignored.

Munjoy Hill is a rich natural, cultural and historic resource, the very essence of which is illustrated in the many historic family homes, apartment houses, former school buildings, gardens and public lands. It is a gem to be cared for, protected and shared for perpetuity. It should not be carved up, torn down and jammed to the limit with cold box buildings and oversized condos casting shadows on their neighbors. I ask the Planning Board to consider the fragile balance between planned development and protecting the character of this unique community.

I support the changes to the R-6 residential zoning code that the Munjoy Hill Conservation Collaborative and now the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization are requesting, and ask that the Planning Board do the same. They are as follows:

Strengthen demolition language by requiring public signage and a public hearing on properties proposed for demolition; requiring affordable-housing units to be built if buildings are torn down; requiring the Planning Department to review the landmark/contributing status of buildings proposed for demolition; and clarifying and describing “preferable preservation” status.

Insert specific design standards into the zoning ordinance in order to ensure compatible scale/mass and architecture. Currently, some of the developers are outrageously ignoring it.

Provide a specific timeline of autumn 2018 for the proposed designation of two Munjoy Hill historic districts, as called for by Greater Portland Landmarks.

Carol M. Connor

Portland


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