2013-10-25 / Letters

WPO needs to be defeated

To the editor:

I feel the need to respond to the “Another View Editorial” that was published Oct. 20 in another newspaper by South Portland State Representatives Scott Hamann, Terry Morrison and Bryan Kaenrath regarding the proposed Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

As a past member of the South Portland Planning Board I feel their statements: “Editorial on waterfront vote parrots industry talking points,” “The proposed tar sands ban would protect the health, safety and future of South Portland residents,” “Who would enforce such a strict interpretation,” “No one has this interest, and no one would insist that the city interpret it in that way,” “Please don’t be confused, the ordinance will protect our community” and “It ensures businesses doing businesses along the waterfront can continue doing business as usual” are very misguided views.

First, the subject of tar sands oil is not even mentioned in the ordinance. Second, I believe the editor of the paper should be commended for writing an objective editorial as an open minded observer. Third, I personally have my own reservations about the clean up of any tar sands oil spill. Fourth, I believe the proposed Waterfront Protection Ordinance is a very poorly written, conflicting and overbroad ordinance that can have economical effects on South Portland that no one can imagine. Fifth, this poorly drafted ordinance is not the ordinance we need to prevent tar sands from passing through our city.

Whether you are for tar sands oil or against tar sands oil, this poorly written ordinance is not in the best interest for all of us in South Portland. Also, if the ordinance does not work out as the advocates would have you believe, the ordinance and its effects will be on the books until another difficult ordinance can be written and approved by the people (and who would do it?). People need to know that an ordinance implemented by referendum cannot be amended by the council. It has to be changed through another time-consuming referendum.

I believe the authors of this ordinance encountered legal issues against singling out the prevention of one petroleum product – tar sands oil. I also believe that is why the name tar sands oil is not specified in the ordinance. If this is true, it would explain why the ordinance is so overly broad and unfortunately very poorly written.

For just one example, the proponents of the proposed Waterfront Protection Ordinance claim that existing facilities can expand and operate as they always have. Section 4 (a) clearly states “Notwithstanding (in spite of) any other provision of this code, there shall be no enlargement or expansion of existing facilities ...” The ordinance then defines “expansion” to mean alteration to change the function or capacity of such facilities. Preventing change of the capacity of existing facilities is not allowing operating as they always have. The words, “But is not limited to” are also not allowing operating as they always have.

Personnel charged by the city of South Portland to enforce city ordinances are required to interpret and enforce the written words of any ordinance to the best of their ability. They do not have the authority or latitude to side with any claims by the authors of what they may have intended, with any one local interest group, or with what the majority of residents might like to have. They are the police force, so to speak, of the ordinance requirements and not the judges. That is why it is imperative to have a clear and concise written ordinance.

If you cannot understand the requirements of this ordinance and what it is really saying, I urge you to vote against it and insist that the city council prepare a clear and concise ordinance that can be understood and does what you want. Also, an ordinance approved and implemented by the council can be revised later if necessary by the council in a timely manner.

If you do not understand the ordinance, I urge you to vote against it. By not voting at all you would strengthen the chances of passage of this poorly drafted ordinance and prevent us from doing it right.

Stanley Cox
South Portland

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