Portland City Council approves new 180-bed shelter for asylum seekers



PORTLAND (WGME) -- Nearly 200 shelter beds are going up in the Riverton neighborhood in Portland.

With the Portland Expo ending its second stint as an emergency shelter in August, the city was pressured to provide transitional housing to asylum seekers.

The building on Riverside Industrial Parkway will be rehabbed into a 180-bed emergency shelter for asylum seekers. City leaders hope this will not only give them a place to stay but help reduce homeless encampments around the city.

“This is an emergency solution to a humanitarian crisis,” Portland City Councilor Anna Trevorrow said.

In an 8-1 vote, the Portland City Council passed the plan for a new shelter. ...




Wed, 06/21/2023 


With June 21 being the last day of classes, Southport School Committee is now preparing for the next academic year beginning in August. On June 12, the school committee approved a contract extension through 2025 for teaching principal Lisa Clarke. The committee is also researching a new school bus. The three-person board favors buying a gasoline-fueled three-quarter sized bus, but Chairman Adam Harkins warns those models are in short supply. “There is a longer wait time for three-quarter buses. So, I’m proposing we study our options, and come up with a plan later this summer,” he said.

The committee received three bus quotes, two for regular and one for three-quarter-sized. Harkins will provide the other members with the bus quotes to review and plans on scheduling a summer meeting to consider their options. ...



Portland housing office staff to present rent control changes to City Council


By Rachel Ohm

Jun 23, 2023


The Portland City Council may put more changes to the city’s rent control ordinance before voters this November.

A proposal generated by city staff would allow the Rent Board to approve increases beyond the current 10% annual cap, put in place a new 60-day deadline for tenants to file complaints and eliminate a two-tiered fee on landlords who register their apartments late. ...

Some city councilors contacted Thursday said they weren’t expecting staff to bring this forward Monday.

“My initial reaction is I’m surprised to see it come up,” said Councilor Anna Trevorrow, who plans to find out more about the proposal before declaring a position. ...

The proposal comes less than two weeks after city voters rejected a landlord-initiated proposal to eliminate a 5% cap on the rent increase allowed when a tenant voluntarily vacates an apartment. Question A failed 67% to 33%. ...

City code says that any ordinances passed by referendum cannot be changed by the City Council for five years, except through another referendum. The council will be asked whether to send the proposal to voters, who would likely see it in the November election.

Monday’s agenda item is just a first read, with council action on the proposal not expected until July 17, at the earliest. ...



Casco Comp Plan vote date delayed


By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — A town’s comprehensive plan is by nature a large document that is designed to express the wishes and wants of the townspeople. Once completed, it is often not updated or redone for more than a decade. The process of putting together a comp plan can often take anywhere from 18 months to two-plus years.

The Town of Casco is in the process of doing its comp plan. ...

This spring, the timeline was to hold a special town meeting in July so residents could vote on whether or not to adopt the proposed comp plan.

That timeline has changed. Everyone is in agreement: Let’s get it right. Then, let’s move to the next chapter of the comp plan story.

Last week, the Casco Board of Selectmen held a workshop with the Casco Comp Plan Steering Committee. 

This summer, the steering committee has been meeting weekly, according to Chair Rae-Anne Nguyen. ...

Apparently, there is still some editing to be done.

“A lot of it comes down to wording: ‘You will, you shall, you must.’ I think that kind of scared people. If we let that [wording] down a little bit,” Selectman Scott Avery said. 

“We sit here and tell everyone this is a living, breathing document, which is basically a road map for the town. And if the town chooses to take that road, it can. But there are other roads as well. . .  The wording has to match that sentiment. We are saying it is a living, breathing, open document, but will/shall is making people uncomfortable. Once we get rid of some that, I think that will settle a lot of things.” ...

Nguyen asked the board: “What was your takeaway from reading the public comments? Are there any hot-button issues that you feel need to be addressed?”

Avery answered “one hiccup point” is that people want the land along Route 302 in Casco to remain zoned agriculture. That’s the area where Raymond Frozen Custard and farm stand is located. ...

Later in the discussion, Edwards said the committee “would like to have this done by the end of year.”

Chairman MacDonald agreed.

“I would love to bring it to a special town meeting in January,” he said.

Nguyen, who was already standing at the podium, spoke.

“We want to see the end point. We want to see our goal posts,” she said.

Selectman Avery said, “You have put in so much time already. You have gone above and beyond what is expected. The last thing I would want to do is rush you into something. If you need to take until the end of year, and you are comfortable with that, then by all means.” ...



Casco LED lights get mixed reviews


By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — LED streetlights might be illuminating to some people. Yet, for other citizens, the bulbs are a blinding nuisance.

One Casco resident, who brought her concerns to Central Maine Power (CMP) as well as to the town, explained why she was frustrated with the new lighting. ...

Last week, Casco resident Ilene Tidd spoke during public participation time at the Casco Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

“I previously reached out by e-mail to the select board and the town manager, regarding an LED light pole that is negatively impacting our property,” she began. ...

“They are much brighter than the amber colored sodium sulphate lights they replaced. If the LED lights aren’t properly installed, they can cause more light pollution. They are harsh on the eyes,” she said. ...

“Lights along property lines will be visible to residents, but should be appropriately shielded,” she read.  ...

Selectman Scott Avery understood her point of view, but advocated for more lighting on poorly lit roads.

“I can see why you are looking at your light,” he said.

“At Pike’s Corner, I am cheering for the LED lights because that intersection is dark. It is supposedly one of the worst intersections in the state. But yet, without Crossroads Store there and [the owner] being so great and keeping spotlights on there, that intersection is black. Unfortunately a couple of the businesses have been burglarized because it is so dark and anyone driving by can’t see anything,” Avery said.

He repeated that he understood Tidd’s viewpoint and had seen the photos she submitted.  

“At the same time, all our intersection are dark. Every single one of them. Cooks Mills and Tenney Hill Road are dark. Route 302 and Tenny Hill are dark. We had to address those concerns,” he said.

More streetlights would be advantageous in the area around Crooked River School, he said. 

“The reasoning for the LED is our town was dark in places it shouldn’t be dark,” Avery said. “Pike’s Corner is still dark, but better than it was.” ...