Last week the Portland City Council approved a significant change to regulations that govern non-fishing related development along the waterfront piers. Until this vote only marine-related businesses were allowed to locate along the waterfront.

In a 7-2 vote preceded by hours of public discussion, the new regulations now provide for 45% of first floor buildings to be used for non-marine uses.  The area designated stretches from Maine Wharf to Deake’s Wharf.

This would appear to be an excellent compromise designed to protect the valuable working waterfront and fishing industries while allowing pier owners to develop and improve their properties.

Although the fishing industry has been in decline for many years, there has been reluctance on the part of the city to make changes, and understandably so.

Portland’s working waterfront is one of the last in the country and adds a unique character to the city and helps promote tourism. Pier owners have long asked for the proposed change, saying it makes good business sense.

The city’s plan will go into effect in 30 days, if is approved by the Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection.