PORTLAND — The Housing Committee is recommending several changes to a city ordinance that requires property owners to either replace or pay a fee for housing units they remove from the market.
A draft of the new Housing Replacement Ordinance will be reviewed by the committee in March. It will include exemptions for certain parts of the city, a trigger year for properties to be included and inclusion of certain types of housing currently not included in the ordinance.
The current 7-year-old ordinance came under fire in the fall, after the City Council excused a Congress Street project by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby from having to pay more than $400,000 into the replacement fund because it deemed the project to be of "special merit." Quimby is removing six apartment units and turning the building into artist studios.
At the same time, the city's planning authority determined that the owner of a building at the corner of Washington Avenue and Congress Street needed to demolish the dilapidated building and was required to pay $150,000 into the replacement fund for three units. The determination came despite arguments from owner Alec Altman and his attorney that there had not been residential units in the building for more than 50 years.
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