Portland Council considering repeal of development restrictions in Munjoy Hill overlay district

The Portland Metropolis Council is looking at repealing progress constraints on Munjoy Hill that had been set in place right before the generation of a new historic district last year eased considerations about the require to sluggish down demolitions and preserve the current character of the place.

Councilors achieved Monday to listen to from arranging department team about the proposal to eliminate the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District, which was advised by the arranging board 7- in February.

“Part of the basis of their conclusion was the board at the time, in 2018, identified the overlay acceptable and dependable with the comprehensive approach then,” Christine Grimando, director of scheduling and urban development, instructed the council throughout the workshop Monday evening. “Part of their dialogue was, ‘What has changed?’ and they did find that the acute instances that prompted the board to vote in favor of this at that time, they did not find individuals to however be the situation.”

Some of the board’s problems provided destructive impacts to housing generation and worry of much too lots of regulatory layers in the community with the addition last 12 months of the Munjoy Hill Historic District, Grimando stated, and they identified that the historic district is addressing several of the concerns that had prompted the overlay.

“They also uncovered that some of these components of the overlay, in phrases of style and kind prerequisites, were intriguing but didn’t always need to be in place just for this neighborhood,” Grimando claimed.

The council is envisioned to deliberate and vote on the repeal at its following meeting, on June 22, and councilors employed Monday’s workshop to inquire queries about the effects of the overlay and what a repeal would do.


Councilor Anna Trevorrow, who represents District 1, where the overlay is positioned, mentioned she has read unique arguments about how the zone is impacting the affordability of housing in one particular of the city’s most sought-immediately after neighborhoods.

Some persons have argued that superior-finish improvement – which the overlay sites some restrictions on – is driving residence values and earning the region less inexpensive for extended-term inhabitants. But other people have theorized that the overlay zone is suppressing density and restricting the source of housing, Trevorrow explained. She requested if the zone is impacting affordability 1 way or the other.

A modern home on Quebec Avenue on Munjoy Hill on Tuesday, February 22, 2022. The Munjoy Hill Historic District includes most of the neighborhood east of Washington Avenue and Mountfort Road. Brianna Soukup/Team Photographer

Although workers do not monitor the affordability of current housing models, rents and housing rates are continuing to improve in common, Grimando claimed. “I really do not believe it’s just new construction (driving charges to boost).

“Of class there is price in current community inventory and regardless of whether this is repealed or not, it’s not heading to direct to finish turnover just one way or one more. I consider this is about easing certain limitations.”

She said one of the city’s objectives is to increase the source of housing, and that raising the number of units, no make any difference the value place, can support. “I really do not think new enhancement is the sole perpetrator for why a housing industry modifications and I would be cautious of that ultimate summary for the community,” Grimando explained.

Mayor Kate Snyder questioned irrespective of whether personnel experienced a suggestion for the organizing board past winter season as they have been deliberating the repeal. Grimando reported they did not, though staff did existing distinct selections in terms of repealing the overlay, retaining it or earning amendments.

“It actually was a thing (the scheduling board) spearheaded and requested and we definitely approached the first workshop as, ‘We are going to lay out what it is, how it functions and have a dialogue,’” Grimando claimed. “We took type of as even a hand as we could to permit that dialogue play out.”

Supplemental LAYER OF Constraints

The overlay district was adopted in 2018 in response to residents’ concerns about the scale and character of the latest developments as very well as about demolitions and was supposed to make it more complicated to demolish some architecturally sizeable properties and to greater make certain that new structures are constructed in a similar type, dimension and scale to people that by now exist.

It involves the normal spot east of Washington Avenue and Mountfort Avenue, north of Fore Road and west of the Jap Promenade, and encompasses the Munjoy Hill Historic District. There are no proposed alterations to the protections offered by the historic district, which protects historic buildings from demolition and necessitates that new development, alterations and additions comply with the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance specifications.

Some of the restrictions that would be removed in the broader spot of the overlay incorporate necessities that recently created buildings not exceed 35 toes in height or 45 feet for multiunit structures on tons of at the very least 2,000 sq. toes that also involve at the very least 1 “workforce housing unit” to be rented or offered to a family earning 80 per cent or less of the location median earnings. The fundamental R-6 zoning, which is what the space would revert to if the district is repealed, calls for a height limit of 45 toes for new building.

The overlay also incorporates style and design criteria these as demanding “simple, standard roof sorts,” lively dwelling place on the initial floor and parking located on the side or rear of the creating.

And it delivers for a hold off of up to 12 months on the demolition of certain structures to take a look at possibilities.


In February, the organizing board voted 7- in favor of repealing the overlay, citing variations in circumstances, like the creation in April 2021 of the Munjoy Hill Historic District, and concerns about the will need for additional housing and the overlay hindering development. The board heard from customers of the public the two for and in opposition to the overlay.

Developer Tim Wells told the board that putting the overlay in position was a “knee-jerk reaction” to new investments on the hill and urged its repeal. “If you want to see Portland have additional houses built, you treatment about defending the natural environment, you imagine a city that is vivid, sustainable, walkable and where citizens embrace community transportation, then you can not support the COD,” Wells mentioned.

But Sarah Hansen, executive director of Greater Portland Landmarks, testified to the organizing board that pulling the overlay is untimely and that the decline of the demolition delay provision would be harmful.

“Removing the only kind of security for historic buildings on in excess of 50 % of Munjoy Hill will not only negatively influence this dense district, it will get rid of the option for considerate assessment and examination that is supporting form the future of the eastern peninsula,” Hansen mentioned at the board’s February assembly.

In an electronic mail Monday, Wayne Valzania, president of the Munjoy Hill Community Corporation, reported the team is in guidance of leaving the overlay in spot and reviewing it as component of the city’s ongoing review of land-use code, referred to as ReCode Portland.

“Many motives have been presented distinct to cost-effective housing, quickly soaring property values in District 1, considerably outpacing other districts, and the threat that unfettered progress poses to the architectural material of Munjoy Hill,” Valzania explained. “It would seem unwise to further destabilize legacy residence ownership, provision of affordable housing models, and the relevance of Munjoy Hill other than as a worthwhile growth opportunity.”

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