An example of EV chargers at the southbound Kennebunk Plaza on the Maine Turpike.. Dan King photo

SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Town Council voted 6-1 to pass an electrical vehicle (EV) charging ordinance on Jan. 4. The ordinance requires the installation and/or preparation for the installation of EV infrastructure in new development and redevelopment in Scarborough, and management of the infrastructure.

All new or redeveloped parking facilities will be required to install EV charging station infrastructure.

A couple revisions to the ordinance also passed in the process. The revision eliminates section 5.4, which would only allow EVs actively charging to park in spaces with charging stations. The second revision is to clarify operation hours of charging stations and to include prominent signage at charging stations with a number to call for public assistance.

The ordinance has been discussed in multiple meetings already, including the town council, the Sustainability Committee, Ordinance Committee, and the Planning Board. The project has been in the works since 2021, when the Sustainability Committee began drafting the ordinance.

More than half of Maine’s carbon emissions are due to transportation, according to the Maine Climate Council.

Further EV use is an important strategy in combatting transportation-related emissions, according to Maine Won’t Wait, the state’s 2020 climate action plan. On a national level, the 2021 Infrastructure Law sets a goal of creating 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030 and includes $7.5 billion for infrastructure. The 2022 Inflation Reduction act also provides a large amount of funding for EV infrastructure. Many major vehicle companies have pledged to transition to EVs, most within 10 years.


On a local level, Scarborough’s 2021 comprehensive plan seeks energy conservation and efficiency, and intends to “reduce vehicle emissions where possible through diverse measures.”

Councilor Nicholas McGee had reservations on the ordinance, mostly due to its effect on small business owners who may struggle to bear the cost, he said.

“I do appreciate the initiative and the forethought that’s going into this, and the appetite to try and help what we know is a changing environment,” said McGee. “But deep down, on a philosophical level, I’m a little bit bothered by this and I’ll tell you why. We have a private company making private products, selling it to the people for a profit. And we are now putting an ordinance in place and pushing off the use of those products, or the improvement of the use of those products onto our business owners. They are going to bear the brunt of implementing this infrastructure, the cost to implement it, and the maintenance of it.”

McGee opposed the ordinance in the vote.

“Personally, I would have rather seen an approach where some sort of fund would have been established to help business owners make the decision to make the leap to provide these spaces,” he said.

Councilor Don Hamill commented on potential pushback and how “plans change upon implementation.”


“Based upon what’s happening with production of vehicles, it looks like people are making a big move in this direction,” said Hamill. “… This (the ordinance) is obviously going to get changed. There will be pushback from developers. There will be pushback from customers. There’s a question about whether or not the batteries work very well in cold climates. We used to be a cold climate, so, I mean, if we ever get cold weather again, that’s going to be an issue. There are going to be issues with this. So, I expect that this is not the last version you are going to see of this ordinance.”

Councilor April Sither said it’s important to be proactive.  “I think one of the things that I hear as a recurring theme sometimes for us as a council and then larger at the town level is that we’re not out ahead of things,” she said. “That there is this kind of desire for the council and for our committees to work towards putting something so that we are out ahead of some of these big changes rather than trying to play catch up and implement a bunch of ordinances after the fact, or figure out our fee structure after the fact.”

“And so I also am going to support this tonight with the understanding that we never get it right on the first try,” she said, “but that I really sincerely appreciate our efforts and everyone’s combined efforts to get out ahead of this because I do think that EV vehicles are coming, and I appreciate that we’re not going to be trying to play catch up on this one.”

Council Chair Jon Anderson also supported the ordinance. “I hear the concerns about small businesses, but again I think when it comes to looking at this and thinking of values and my philosophy and my opinion … more similar to what Councilor Sither said, I think we have to take some action, especially around climate change,” he said. “And that’s going to be tough, as we address that as a community there will be winners and there will be losers and there will be people that are unhappy about some of the decisions we have to make. And so at least for this as it stands, I think it’s progress. It’s not perfect, and so I think if we were to try to get perfection it might never come. And it’s already been through two years of a lot of work to try and get it there, so I feel like we have a good start.”

Anderson said he thinks that the ordinance will likely be amended in the future. “I see this as similar to marijuana, where it’s a new thing, it was new to the council, a lot of people didn’t know what to do. I think this is kind of similar where it’s a new industry, we’re making some assumptions about the future, so I think we have to be open to revisiting it in ordinance in the future to see if there are tweaks as we learn more.”

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