GrowSmart Maine opposes Portland’s Question 2

PORTLAND – In an act unprecedented in its history, GrowSmart Maine’s Board of Directors has unanimously voted to oppose Portland’s Question 2, the “View Shed Referendum.”

It may seem unusual that an organization dedicated to protecting Maine’s heritage, landscape and future would turn its back on a referendum devoted to protecting the city’s view sheds. But according to Nancy Smith, Executive Director, the Board’s collective opinion is that there is more to this referendum than simple view shed protection.

Smith says the Board believes that this ordinance does not support the kind of responsible development Portland needs.

“If passed, Question 2 would create an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy, imposing such subjective criteria that it would make developing and doing business in Portland too risky for most who want to engage in this city,” said Smith. “As Maine’s largest city, Portland’s action could set a precedent for the entire state, with profound repercussions.”

David Webster, co-founder, President, and managing partner of PDT Architects and Chair of the GrowSmart Maine Board, states, “As a statewide organization, the Board is comprised of conservationists as well as developers, planners, architects and environmental activists, who unanimously believe it important to take a stand on this referendum.”

An Op Ed in today’s Portland Press Herald outlines the organization’s unease with the ordinance as proposed. Concerns center around including adding a lengthy and subjective committee approval process as well as requiring developers to provide a costly detailed plan before any public feedback can be gathered on a general development concept. Finally, the new ordinance would include a retroactive provision that seeks to block the Portland Co. waterfront development, a development that has abided by all the requirements – both in letter and spirit – of Portland’s Master Plan.

The Op Ed can also be viewed at and the organization welcomes comment on Facebook or at