Keep Portland Livable formed in Spring 2013 after the massive proposed Midtown development threatened Bayside with its size, form, and deadening impacts on walkways and streets. When the Board overrode the neighborhood’s Bayside Vision, the city’s Comprehensive Plan, and city land use ordinances to approve the project, Keep Portland Livable appealed the decision to Superior Court. As a result, the developer reduced the height of the development by half, creating an improved version of the project heading for Planning Board approval March 24.

Planning Board approves redesigned Midtown

The largest Midtown building as approved seen from Chestnut Street. (Noyes' storage building has been removed for visibility.)

The largest Midtown building as approved seen from Chestnut Street. (Noyes’ storage building has been removed for visibility.)

Tuesday night (3/24/2015) the Portland Planning Board voted 5-1 to approve Midtown, the largest project in decades in the Bayside neighborhood, as modified to satisfy a suit brought by Keep Portland Livable.

Peter Monro, a Keep Portland Livable co-founder, welcomed the Planning Board vote, saying: “This approval is a victory for the public whose strenuous opposition the Planning Board ignored in granting the first set of approvals. Continue Reading →

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Planning Board delays final approval of Midtown

A rendering of the six-story version of Midtown approved by the Planning Board.

A rendering of the six-story version of Midtown reviewed by the Planning Board.

In a surprise move, the Portland Planning Board Tuesday (3/3/2015) delayed a final vote on Midtown, the largest project in decades in the Bayside neighborhood.

In doing so, the Planning Board did what opponents of the project Portland residents had asked them to do for the first version of the massive Midtown project—Board members required the project to do more to meet some city zoning standards. Continue Reading →

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Plaintiffs Agree to Stay of Court Case in Light of Proposed Redesign of Midtown Project

PORTLAND – The group of Bayside residents and property owners who appealed the Portland Planning Board approval of the massive Midtown project proposed for their neighborhood have agreed to work with the City and the developer toward a settlement of the court case.

The agreement to work with the City of Portland and Miami-based developer The Federated Companies follows the developer’s proposal to significantly redesign the project’s outsized height and scale.  The original plan—approved in the face of significant public opposition—included four 14-story towers and two massive parking garages at the peninsula’s gateway behind Marginal Way.

Federated’s revised proposal to build four 6-story buildings and a single parking garage will now be reviewed by the Planning Board with the developer planning to break ground in the spring of 2015. Continue Reading →

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Justice Warren sustains appeal of Midtown approval

Portland Maine flooding

Our appeal alleges the city has failed to make a required plan to deal with flooding for the project area in Bayside, such as here along Somerset Street in September 2012.

Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren has sustained our appeal of the Midtown case against the City and The Federated Companies while dismissing some of the counts, but incorporating those arguments into the remaining counts. He also laid out a schedule for upcoming filings in the case, which extend into Fall 2014.

Justice Warren refused to dismiss the third of our seven counts that alleges the Planning Board approved an incomplete stormwater drainage plan for the Midtown project, after which Planning staff met with abuttors to fashion a complete plan, which was announced later as the approved plan without allowing public comment. Continue Reading →

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Why we have gone to court over the Midtown project

Portland city hall

Our appeal alleges improper actions and inaction by both the City Council and the city Planning Board in approving the massive, city-sponsored Midtown project.

Keep Portland Livable has gone to Superior Court to overturn the Portland Planning board’s approval of the massive Midtown project, whose four towers and two outsized parking garages would create a wall of buildings between Trader Joes and the parking lot of Whole Foods in the Bayside neighborhood opposite I-295 downtown.

The Portland Planning Board decided to approve the towers and garages in January (2014) despite 12 months of testimony from neighborhood residents, landowners and businesses and others from across the city detailing the ways the project failed to meet the neighborhood’s wishes or the city’s standards.

A month later, members of Keep Portland Livable appealed the Board’s improper approval, hoping to oblige the city, which owns the land, and the developer, The Federated Companies of Miami, Florida, to revise the project to conform to the city’s land use rules. The eight litigants include major landowners and residential owners in the Bayside neighborhood. Continue Reading →

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Bayside Residents and Property Owners Appeal Planning Board Approval of Midtown

PORTLAND – A group of Bayside residents and business owners have gone to court to appeal the Portland Planning Board’s approval of the massive Midtown project proposed for their neighborhood.

The appeal was filed today (Wednesday, Feb. 12) at the Superior Court in Portland.

Grounds for the appeal center on the project’s failure to comply with the city’s Comprehensive Plan and land use ordinances as well as the lack of Planning Board authority to approve the more than 20 significant waivers granted from city standards and codes. Continue Reading →

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Why is Portland Playing Developer?

Those who argue that this Midtown project is the only possible future for Bayside are arguing from a most peculiar standpoint. They are saying that this city-manufactured blueprint for development that violates the neighborhood’s own wishes and the city’s own codes is the only way this area can be developed. Hmmm.

It’s one thing for the city to acquire the land as it did a decade ago, and to extend a street through the area, both traditional municipal actions and good things. Continue Reading →

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Ready or Not, Taller Buildings Are Coming Our Way

MD Plan. Thompsons Point. finalThose who doubt that the City Council is not all-out in favor of development of almost any density and any height might look back carefully at the week just past.

On Monday night (12/16), the City Council voted 9-0 to double the allowable building heights on one of the most visible properties in the city.  As a result, height limitations on Thompson’s Point jumped from 65 to 120 feet. The council also waived a density requirement that prevented the developers from exceeding 60 units per acre. Continue Reading →

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