PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Neighbors of a proposed housing development in Portland took their fight against the project to the Maine Supreme Court.
It's a last ditch effort to try to stop the development before construction begins. Neighbors are angry city leaders changed the zoning in the area to allow the project.
Raymond Foote says he couldn’t believe the size of the project planned for his neighborhood.
“That was a shock to me and many, many others”, he said.
The project would include nearly 250 units encompassing the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse, next to the former McCauley High school, and land behind it near Baxter Woods Park.
“It’s like parking several Holiday Inns of multiple stories right next to a grand park and it’s not at all in keeping with the character of our neighborhood”, said Foote.
An attorney representing the neighbors took the fight to the state’s highest court, hoping the justices would throw out a lower court ruling that dismissed the neighbors lawsuit. David Lourie argued the zoning change goes against the city’s comprehensive plan and the modifications were made to fit this specific project.
“The city got the rezoning process backwards in this case. They completely rewrote the R5A District in the ordinance to fit the proposed development”, Lourie said.
City leaders say the changes were made after a lengthy process, including numerous opportunities for public input. That input led to the project being scaled back. The attorney representing the developers said it’s one of the few parcels left in the city for this type of project.
“It is a very large piece of land in a well established neighborhood and it is an appropriate site for this type of housing” , said attorney Natalie Burns.