Yesterday's three-hour hearing at City Hall on the proposal to build a Department of Homeland Security center
[PDF] in South Waterfront ended without any clear resolution.
The question before city commissioners: Is the pending Immigration and Customs Enforcement center
an office, as the Department of Homeland Security contends? Or is it a detention facility, as residents in the South
Portland Neighborhood Association say?
Portland's Bureau of Development Services, the agency responsible for reviewing plans for new buildings, earlier sided with the feds and determined their proposed three-story addition to an existing four-story building fit with the current zoning code. Neighbors say it doesn't and that the new facility requires a more exhaustive conditional land-use review.
In response to a request from DHS to provide more evidence to the city that the ICE facility will be primarily an office, Portland officials have extended for seven days, until Jan. 26, the period for submitting materials about the proposal. By law, that means the earliest City Council can vote on the project is Feb. 9. However, all five members of the council are not expected to be at City Hall that day. As a result, officials have scheduled
the next hearing on the project for Feb. 16. Commissioners then would vote on their recommendation on Feb. 23.