Neighbors are concerned that the Western Waterfront could become a ‘trucking hub’
by Tony Zeli
On February 27th neighbors held a public meeting to share information and discuss strategies to keep the Western Waterfront for marine-related development.
Of issue is a proposed cold storage facility slated to be developed by Americold. This warehouse company is currently located on Read Street. They intend to build a second facility on Commercial Street. Americold wants to increase capacity for frozen goods shipped by Eimskip, the Icelandic shipping company that currently operates next door to the development site.
Cold Storage Okay, Increased Heights Not Okay
The organizers of the meeting support building a cold storage facility. But they take issue with a current request before the Planning Board to increase building heights in the Waterfront Port Development Zone. The proposal would increase allowed heights from 45 feet to 75 feet above grade to accommodate the Americold development. The City’s Economic Development Department made this request on behalf of the Maine Port Authority, the owner of the land. Further, Americold claims that the extra height is necessary to build a profitable facility.
Residents at the meeting voiced concern that the intention is to create a cold storage facility capable of storing far more than just frozen fish from Eimskip. If so, how much of this storage would be marine-related? Neighbors at the meeting wondered if the rezoning request is just a way for Americold to build bigger. Their suspicion is that Americold wants to use the cold storage facility to expand their overall warehouse operations. Ultimately, the question they ask is will a change in zoning lead to other large warehouses in the area and greater trucking activity?
Truck Hub Concern
Pete Thaxter presented at the meeting. He said, “What we don’t need here is a truck terminal, and that is what we’re trying to avoid.”
The City released their comprehensive plan draft in February. The proposed comp plan calls for “development of the Western Waterfront as a 21st Century logistics hub that will serve the freight and cargo needs of Maine and Northern New England businesses.” Does this mean that the city, and by extension the state, wants to turn the Western Waterfront into a trucking hub? If so, will the zone be used to ship and receive all sorts of products, not just marine-related goods?
Jo Coyne, another presenter, worries about rows of warehouses and trucking taking over what she called, “the last mile of open waterfront we have.”
Residents may review and comment on the Comprehensive Plan. Go to http://bit.ly/2m3TT0b.
Posted updated 3/4/2017.