Unpacking last night’s marathon City Council meeting

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street, where we’re unpacking all the ramifications of last night’s seven-and-a-half-hour City Council meeting.

It’s late and we’re tired, so let’s just dig into that City Council stuff…

What we’re talking about

If you didn’t stay up past midnight watching the Portland City Council last night, the BDN’s Jake Bleiberg has you covered. The council voted 8-1 on a waterfront rezone which makes a 68-foot-tall refrigerated storage facility possible there. The proposed cold storage building has long been sought to help Maine food producers keep products fresh while waiting for shipment to international markets through the Port of Portland. The council also voted to place two referendums on the November ballot: One which would establish rent controls in the city, and another which would give nearby residents veto power over proposed rezones. For more details, click here.

But that’s not all. The fates of those two seemingly unrelated things may now be intertwined. Opponents of the waterfront rezone preemptively filed 100 signatures that could retroactively be used to overturn the rezone if that referendum passes. So now a vote for the neighborhood veto referendum could be, by extension, a vote against the warehouse rezone. And a vote against the neighborhood veto referendum could be a vote in favor of the warehouse rezone. Also…

While we’re on the subject of the Portland waterfront, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it has awarded Portland Shipyard nearly $1 million in grant money to buy a new marine lift to work on larger vessels.

The folks behind the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument are working with the city of Portland to now set up a parks conservancy here. The group held the first of what will be a series of meetings to determine the structure of the conservancy and an implementation plan last night. The Katahdin Woods story has, of course, been a significant story statewide, with interest reaching the highest levels of American politics.

Gov. Paul LePage’s new spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said this morning that Portland proposals to establish rent controls and force employers to offer paid sick time are potential deterrents to business growth in Maine’s largest city. Rabinowitz was speaking on WGAN radio, as LePage often does on Thursday mornings. The sick time requirement will be first discussed by the City Council on Sept. 18, while citywide voters will decide the fate of the rent control ordinance on Election Day, as previously noted.

Tweet of the day

From our very own Jake Bleiberg, who didn’t get where he was going.

The Big Idea

With the Patriots kicking off their season against Kansas City tonight, here’s a meditation on the ethics of watching football. Are you driving demand for a sport that leaves many of its athletes with serious brain damage? Probably. But players know the risks, right?

We’re not sure where to come down on this one, but if you’re feeling guilty the Awl notes that Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy research center accepts donations.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email us at jbleiberg@bangordailynews.com or skoenig@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @JZBleiberg or @SethKoenig.

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