A petition that sought a referendum to create zoning for “community housing” for low- and moderate-inome housing at Gull Crest Fields in Cape Elizabeth fell just 39 signatures short of the 866 required.


The petition drive spearheaded by Cynthia Dill, a civil rights lawyer and former state senator,  required 10% of registered voters to sign in order to force a referendum. Dill submitted the petition with 887 signatures but only 827 were verified as registered voters, according to the town clerk’s office.

“You win some, you lose some,” Dill said in an email to The Forecaster. “I have no regrets working to help solve a problem and am grateful for the opportunity to have met so many good people in our town along the way who want to help solve problems.”

The petition has been criticized by some residents, including former Town Council Chairperson Jamie Garvin.

“I’m really happy to see this did not receive the necessary number of signatures in order to put it on the ballot in the fall,” Garvin said at Monday’s council meeting. “I think the proponent of the petition was disingenuous in motive and its primary purpose was to sow seeds of confusion with the other referendum question that is already going to be on the ballot.”

Dill did have a successful petition that was certified in November 2021 and will go to a referendum vote this November.


The measure seeks to strike down an October 2021 council decision to make zoning changes to the town center district that would have allowed the Dunham Court project, a four-story,$13.5 million apartment building next to Town Hall and the Village Green. It was proposed that 37 of the 43 units be reserved for people making 60% or below the area median income, which was $42,000 for an individual in Cape Elizabeth in November 2021.

The developers pulled the Dunham Court project in December 2021, but the changes don’t apply to that project so the decision still must still be decided at the polls.

Dill claimed that the project and amendments did not align with Cape Elizabeth’s comprehensive plan and was not suitable for families as it featured 35 one-bedroom, eight two-bedroom and three three-bedroom apartments.

“If you do want to see substantial progress towards creating affordable housing, you have that opportunity by affirming the vote by the Town Council from last fall,” said Garvin, who voted for the amendments as chairperson last November. “To affirm the 5-2 vote of the council from October to make the amendments to zoning that would allow for limited affordable housing developments in the town center district.”

Dill said she still believes “community housing” is a viable form of affordable housing that is best suited for Cape Elizabeth.

Dill wrote that “the concept of Community Housing lives on because using local public resources to meet a local public need makes sense. Creating a neighborhood of truly affordable housing for families and our local workforce is an idea that has legs and is supported by the evidence. I look forward to what’s next.”

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