Bills to address Maine’s housing crisis go before legislative committee

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 5:38 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Several bills that address Maine’s housing crisis went before the legislative Committee on Labor and Housing on Monday.

Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, is proposing a bill to implement the recommendations of the Commission to Increase Housing Opportunities by studying zoning and land use restrictions.

Fecteau says Maine needs to build roughly 1,000 units of affordable housing each year over the next 10 years.

Right now, the state is averaging around 250 units a year.

His bill would allow property owners to build accessory dwelling units in residential zones and allow up to four units to be built on a single-family housing lot.

It would also require the state to support municipalities with grants and technical assistance as they revise zoning regulations.

”I actually think it puts control at its truest level of local control, and that is in the hands of the people who have purchased property, have owned homes, and are wanting to make decisions about how they use the property that they have purchased and owned,” said Fecteau.

“One example of potential concern is the mandate to allow four dwelling units everywhere single-family homes are allowed. As stated, this will promote sprawl into rural areas and unnecessarily cost both state and towns in upgrading roads, extending utilities, and school busing,” said Beth Della Valle, Portland resident.

Several people suggested amending the bill’s requirements to towns with populations smaller than 15,000.

Others also brought up concerns related to how this would impact things like wastewater and drinking water.

The bill will now move to a work session.

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