Proposals to ban municipal growth caps and to establish a statewide housing appeals board and municipal housing priority designations would be removed from an amended affordable housing bill proposed by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau.

The proposed compromise would still include giving a property owner the right to build a fourplex on any undeveloped lot where a single family home is currently allowed, so long as the lot is not in a subdivision. The owners of a lot already containing a home could build as many as two more units under the proposal. And the bill would still allow accessory dwelling units to be built in any residential zone.

“Some of the main provisions that will lead to more housing in our state are still in this bill,” Fecteau, a Biddeford Democrat, said on Tuesday. “This bill as amended will help us move forward and take giant leaps toward a better future for Maine housing, and as a result for Maine’s families and Maine’s economy.”

The amended bill still includes state funding for technical assistance to municipalities for reviewing their housing plans and ordinances. A plan to reward towns for reviewing housing plans has come out, but it is now included in Gov. Janet Mills’ supplemental budget.

The programs included in the amended bill will cost Maine about $3.5 million a year to implement.

The bill, L.D. 2003, would allow construction of four-unit dwellings and accessory dwelling units where a single-family is allowed. They would face the same regulatory hurdles that single-family homes do, such as setback requirements, wastewater tie-ins or parking.


The compromise is scheduled to be heard by the Labor and Housing Committee on Wednesday. With these changes, Fecteau expects the bill will have enough support to pass through the committee and both legislative chambers to land on Mills’ desk.

The amended bill would no longer be emergency legislation. That means it only requires a simple majority to pass, not two-thirds in both houses, and would go into effect three months after the Legislature adjourns, not immediately upon being signed by Mills.

The decision to back off a municipal growth cap ban and a statewide housing review board was made after listening to the concerns of residents and major stakeholder groups, like Maine Municipal Association, Fecteau said. The bill sparked heated debate at a hearing earlier this month.

Fecteau said he worked on the amendment with the municipal association, among other groups. The group’s policy board was expected to meet Tuesday to stake out a position on the amended bill. It opposed the original version that called for a growth cap ban and creation of a statewide appeals board.

The concept of a statewide review board proposal remains alive, however, as part of another bill, L.D. 1673, that intends to streamline the building construction permitting system. The municipal association has opposed that bill, too, arguing that it also undermines local housing control.

A red-hot real estate market is contributing to the affordable housing shortage in both cities and rural areas in Maine. According to the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, one in five Maine renters spends more than half of their income on housing.

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