The Brunswick Town Council postponed its vote on a proposed emergency housing development moratorium Tuesday after more than a dozen community members spoke out against it.

For 75 minutes, developers, renters and property owners from Brunswick and the surrounding area debated the merits and risks of the proposed moratorium, which would put a 180-day pause on the review and approval of all housing development projects of at least 30 units, except those that contain at least 20% affordable housing units.

“I’m a little taken aback,” District 6 Councilor Kate Foye said after listening to stringent opposition from members of the public. “We need to do something to address the housing crisis.”

Town staff initially presented a less restrictive version of the moratorium at the Council’s June 6 meeting. In a memo to the council, Town Manager John Eldridge cited rapidly rising rent and home sale prices and the lack of new affordable housing developments as factors driving the need for the proposed ordinance.

The moratorium, Eldridge said, offers a way to slow market-rate housing development until city staff, town councilors and members of the Comprehensive Plan Committee can draw up new zoning and development policies that will protect low-income renters and buyers. The council expanded the scope of the proposed moratorium in order to draw the widest range of input from the community at Tuesday’s hearing.

Nearly all speakers during the hearing agreed the lack of affordable units (defined by the moratorium as housing serving owners or tenants with annual incomes less than 80% of the area median) in Brunswick amounted to a crisis. Yet many worried the moratorium would backfire by making future development economically infeasible.


“It will not make more affordable housing,” said Chris Rhoades, a Brunswick developer. “It will make no housing. Developers will flee, and they won’t come back.”

Skeptics of the moratorium pointed to Portland’s struggle to add housing since the city passed an inclusionary zoning policy in November 2020 that requires significant developments to include at least 25% affordable units.

“Inclusionary zoning will prevent housing development altogether,” said John Finegan, a Portland real estate broker. “Supply will stagnate, demand will continue, and our housing crisis will continue to get worse.”

Others felt the moratorium’s drawbacks were overstated.

“It’s hard to imagine with the resources these developers have they’re just going to leave town,” Bruce Kantner said. “It sounds a little bit alarmist to me.”

After listening to more than 20 members of the public offer their opinions on the proposed moratorium, town council members agreed to postpone their vote until they had more time to explore the consequences of the policy and possible alternatives. Several seemed more skeptical about a development moratorium than they had been at the June 6 meeting.

The council plans to vote on the measure at their meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Town Hall.

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