The South Portland Conservation Commission respectfully requests that the City Council strongly consider approving a six-month moratorium on development projects of more than two units in the city starting May 1, 2020, and extending through Oct. 31, 2020. We also support the South Portland Land Trust efforts to encourage a moratorium.

Our reasons for making this request are as follows:

The Open Space Acquisition Committee needs to be established, members selected and meetings scheduled. The OSAC then needs time to develop a list of possible private properties potentially available for purchase as open space. The OSAC will be approved on Aug. 18 but several months will be required to get the committee fully operational.

In the meantime there are at least two properties (Surfsite and Evans/Hill) slated for development in neighborhoods where community members have very high levels of concern about the wisdom of developing those parcels. It was neighborhood activism that persuaded the City Council to support a possible purchase of the Piggery. The same level of citizen anxiety is evident in the Surfsite and Evans Street neighborhoods; these properties deserve additional consideration. This city is struggling with air quality issues; we believe that it is not in our best interests to destroy acres of forested land.

Development of these heavily forested parcels will significantly reduce viable habitat and connectivity between riparian habitats, wildlife habitats and large habitat blocks.

The Land Bank Revision Committee should be able to complete its work by the end of October, thus providing the city with increased means of acquiring open space property.

The move towards a land acquisition bond will further enhance the city’s purchasing power, but this bond effort needs time to fully develop.
Thank you for considering our request.

Barbara Dee, Marla LeBlanc, Michael Vincent, Heather Thompson, Katherine Perkins, Cory McKenna and Cathy Chapman