AARP Maine, Avesta endorse "No on Question 2" | News

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AARP Maine, Avesta endorse "No on Question 2"
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Two major companies in Maine endorsed the "No on 2" campaign Wednesday in Portland to push for more housing in the city.

If passed, Question 2 would protect scenic views across all of Portland, through a "Scenic Viewpoint Protection Overlay Zone." It would also create a task force to identify scenic viewpoints in the city.

Some argued it would stifle housing development across the city.

"Question two is poorly written. It's overly broad, and it goes too far," said Lisa Whited, the co-chair of Portland's Future, the entity that opposes Question 2. "This is going to be a negative impact on us providing more housing, more affordable housing for everybody."

The scenic view protection defines views as "natural landscapes with visual qualities that are significant to residents," and also includes sights like the Fore River and Casco Bay.

If the owner of an affected property complains, or 20 people sign a petition against a certain development, they could block or delay a new construction or building improvement.

"The intention was to create more public input. It actually is putting unfair hurdles in front of people that could come here or as we talked about, expand their businesses," said Whited.

One of the properties at the center of the debate is the Portland Company, which the owner wants to turn into a multi-use building. Many residents on Munjoy Hill are concerned it will block views of the ocean.

"You can't just trade away everything that is beautiful. People are very unhappy about giving zoning changes to people when they have not articulated what it is that they're exactly going to build there - that's not right," said Sadhph Neilan, who supports Question 2. "We all want to see more development. We want to see our taxes lowered, but you're just going to ruin what makes Portland so vital in order to have a development that we don't really know what the heck it is."

Even some who plan to check "yes" on Question 2 say they want some sort of compromise.

"I wouldn't disagree with them. I think we should keep building, I just think it should be done responsibly, and I think the city let us down by acting too quickly. The view that could be blocked by that development is everybody's view," said Deborah Murray, who lives on Munjoy Hill.

Opponents of question two say Portland is losing lots of potential renters and homebuyers to cheaper nearby cities.

Supporters of question two say the views are what make Portland attractive, and keep people moving to the city and stimulating the economy.

The Homeless Voices for Justice also endorsed "No on 2."


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