Portland approves plan for new shelter

Portland Press Herald

The Portland Planning Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve Preble Street’s request to convert its former resource center in the city’s Bayside neighborhood into a 40-bed emergency shelter.

The board heard more than two and a half hours of public comment and received hundreds of emails, mostly in support of the proposed shelter at 5 Portland St. The board held two workshops leading up to Tuesday’s meeting, with most of the concerns centering around a management plan to address neighborhood concerns.

Edward Kelleher, an attorney representing Preble Street, said the nonprofit social service agency’s application and management plan had been strengthened throughout the process to address concerns raised by staff, councilors and neighborhood residents.

“We quite clearly meet every criteria,” Kelleher said.

Planning board members agreed. Chairman Brandon Mazer acknowledged that the process took longer than supporters would have liked.

Plans call for up to 40 beds, which would be spaced 8 feet apart to comply with COVID-19 guidelines. Meals and other services will be provided on site. And the outdoor courtyard would be closed off from the street with a 6-foot-tall fence and only be accessible to people staying at the shelter.

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