Dunham Court

Dunham Court would be built next to Cape Elizabeth’s Town Hall, at left. Architect’s rendering courtesy of The Szanton Co.

CAPE ELIZABETH — The town clerk’s office has certified a petition calling for a town referendum challenging a controversial proposal to build affordable housing next door to Town Hall.

Opponents of Dunham Court collected 1,155 valid voter signatures calling for a referendum on recent zoning changes that would make the 46-unit project possible, according to the certification document. That exceeded the 869 signatures needed under the town charter, which is 10 percent of the town’s 8,689 registered voters.

The Town Council voted 5-2 last month to approve four zoning amendments that would allow The Szanton Co. of Portland to build the $13.5 million project just off Ocean House Road (Route 77).

Based on staff recommendations, the council is expected to hold a public hearing on the referendum question on Dec. 1 and will likely consider holding the referendum during the next regular municipal election in June.

The zoning amendments are on hold until the referendum, when the changes would have to be approved by a majority of voters to take effect, according to the town charter.

Dunham Court is the first affordable housing project to come before town officials in 50 years, at a time when affordable housing has become scarce in Cape Elizabeth and throughout Greater Portland. The council is set to vote Monday on a Tax Increment Financing proposal to help fund the project.

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