A widespread internet outage affecting Spectrum customers Monday forced the Portland  City Council to reschedule its virtual meeting to next week, putting off its reconsideration of creating a new historic district on Munjoy Hill.

The council’s livestream was interrupted less than an hour into the meeting, prompting the council to postpone the meeting until next Monday at 5 p.m.

“In an effort to ensure that everyone who wants to participate can, the meeting has been postponed to Monday, April 12 at 5 p.m.,” City Hall spokesperson Jessica Grondin said in a news release.

The council had been slated to reconsider its previous vote against creating the city’s 12th historic on Munjoy Hill.

The council had voted 5-4 in early February against the proposal. But two weeks later, Councilor Andrew Zarro reconsidered his vote against it, setting up Monday’s planned vote.

Zarro said he voted against the district partly because the city had not conducted any impact studies about how the city’s existing historic districts have affected residents and housing affordability.

Monday’s agenda included a resolution that would direct the city manager to commission that study.

The proposed historic district covers a stretch of North Street between Congress and Walnut streets and much of the section of Munjoy Hill between Kellogg Street, Congress Street and Eastern Promenade. Courtesy / City of Portland

The study would look at job creation and the economic impacts of historic rehabilitation; the value of cultural tourism; impacts on property taxes and rents; the role of preservation in the city’s downtown revitalization; impacts on environmental sustainability and energy efficiency; and social and racial impacts relating to low- and moderate-income housing development.

Creating a historic district adds an extra layer of review for developers looking to tear down historically significant buildings and for homeowners making exterior upgrades that can be seen from the street. Buildings that lack historical value or architectural integrity can be torn down.

Last week, a West End resident filed a formal request for the city to dissolve a historic district in that neighborhood. But that effort faces steep odds, since it must be sponsored by at least two members of the Historic Preservation Board to even begin the long review process.

Developed largely between 1850 and 1925, Munjoy Hill was originally home to many immigrant families who found work in the Portland Co. railroad foundry, the Atlantic & St. Lawrence Railroad, fisheries and other industries.

The proposed district would have added historic protections for 376 parcels, or 88 percent of the properties in the district.

While historic districts are typically used as an economic development tool, some neighborhood residents and preservationists hope the district will slow the rate of demolitions and redevelopment that are changing the neighborhood’s character.

 

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