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Posted on: December 11, 2018

City Staff Proposes 180-Day Moratorium for Central Waterfront Zoning District

NEWS ALERT

The City of Portland is proposing to institute a 180-day moratorium on most non-marine development within the Waterfront Central Zone (WCZ) in response to significant overburdening of parking, traffic control and waterfront resources in that zone. If adopted, the moratorium will pause non-marine development in the WCZ and provide time for the City to convene a stakeholder group to discuss ways in which the City can help alleviate concerns regarding parking issues and development pressures. The item will appear on the Council’s December 17 meeting agenda. City staff is requesting that the second reading be waived and that it be passed as an emergency. Public comment will be taken at the December 17 meeting.

The proposed moratorium is designed to address the concerns that have driven interest in a citizen-initiated petition and it proposes to address these pressures and their impacts on the marine industry by substantially limiting non-marine uses in that zone. City staff has worked over the last several weeks with members of the fishing community and Central Waterfront pier owners to understand their concerns. The proposed moratorium aims to help address community concerns by pausing additional non-marine development while the City and community stakeholders work cooperatively to develop strategies for mitigating those impacts. Possible strategies may include proposed land use amendments, a concentrated focus to address transportation and parking issues, a plan for use of Waterfront TIF District Funds to address core issues such as dredging, a plan to meet commercial berthing needs, and enforcement of existing city code. 

“The City of Portland fully supports, and will always support, the working waterfront,” said City Manager Jon Jennings. “I appreciate the willingness of the fishing community and the pier owners to work with us to address the core issues to ensure the working waterfront exists for all future generations. This moratorium will allow the City and the stakeholders the necessary time to address these concerns in a thoughtful and balanced way. It’s our belief that we can both address the concerns of the fishing industry and at the same time develop policies that are good for all of Portland.”

“I am supportive of the Council approving this moratorium, as it will give us all a chance to pause and examine these very important issues impacting Portland’s working waterfront, in hopes of finding the best way to move forward, ” said Charlie Poole, President of Proprietors of Union Wharf, which owns Union Wharf. “I’m fully supportive of any efforts that will ensure our working waterfront will be able to prosper and thrive going forward.”  

"I’m pleased that all parties are coming to the table to take this time to discuss these important issues so that we can make sure the working waterfront works for all of us," said Steve DiMillo, owner of DiMillo's on the Water restaurant. I believe that if a referendum were to go forward and become enacted, it would halt any investment by the pier owners, which would have negative consequences for the fishermen. I look forward to discussing these issues further." 

If approved by the Council, the City Manager has committed to facilitating the following during the term of the moratorium:

  1. Zoning: Interested parties will be invited to collaborate on an evaluation of the current Waterfront Central Zone text and provide recommendations to the Portland Planning Board for amendments, if deemed warranted. 

  1. Transportation: Interested parties will be invited to participate in and inform the ongoing Commercial Street Operations and Master Plan process. City staff from Planning, Economic Development, and Public Works will continue to guide the study consultants to respect the marine use priority of the corridor consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and as described in the study scope of services. Commercial Street stakeholders will be notified of all relevant meetings and will be invited to have a formative role in the generation of ideas for evaluation and the recommendation of alternative solutions for implementation. 

  1. Tax Increment Financing -TIF: The taskforce will work to recommend use of TIF revenues consistent with the waterfront focus of the Waterfront TIF District. 

  1. Berthing: The City Economic Development Department will monitor commercial berthing opportunities in Portland Harbor. If Commercial berthing demand cannot be met by existing private and public supply, the Economic Development Department will report such conditions to the City Council and advocate for an expansion of berthing for commercial fishing on both public and private facilities, including the Portland Fish Pier. The City will also explore financing options to create such berthing, if needed. 

  1. Enforcement: Existing ordinances limiting or prohibiting expansions of commercial parking for offsite, non-marine use within the Waterfront Central Zone will remain in effect. Any violations will be investigated and enforcement action undertaken as appropriate. 

  1. The City will re-examine issues of wharf access, and opportunities for loading and off-loading gear and product, and areas to work on gear, at private and public spaces, including the Fish Pier.

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