Proposed development moratorium sparks tree debate in South Portland

SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council is considering a controversial six-month development moratorium, spurred by two multifamily housing proposals on wooded parcels that threaten to destroy hundreds of trees.

One proposal is a 13-unit condominium on Surfsite Road, near Willard Beach and Southern Maine Community College. The other is a 12-unit apartment complex at Evans and Hill streets. Both have preliminary Planning Board approval.

City leaders are responding to development pressure that coincides with a growing desire to preserve the city’s dwindling green spaces, in keeping with recently updated climate action and open space plans.

Exactly what types of development would be halted, what would be accomplished during the moratorium and whether the temporary ban would be retroactive have yet to be determined. Still, the vast majority of councilors have voiced strong support for an idea that appears to conflict with the city’s affordable housing development goals and has sparked

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