John Egan from the Genisis Fund, an affordable housing developer, discusses housing options with Bowdoinham residents at a Feb. 1 meeting. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

With a third of its population over age 60, Bowdoinham is looking for ways to expand the local housing market to include all ages and incomes.

Bowdoinham’s 2014 comprehensive plan stressed the need for affordable housing, and now, nine years later, residents say it isn’t just about affordable housing but available housing to all.

Four months ago, residents fleshed out ideas for Bowdoinham’s future and suggested more townhomes and duplexes, seasonal housing for farm workers, cluster housing, new commercial spaces, and more septic options.

The Bowdoinham Housing Committee returned with examples of successful group housing in neighboring towns: Two Echo Co-Housing Community in Brunswick, Mariners Landing in Brunswick and three-unit condo development in Bath.

Ninety-three percent of the dwellings in Bowdoinham are occupied, around 7% by renters. Since 2000, Bowdoinham’s population has grown by 16%, reaching 3,000 people. During that time, Sagadahoc County has grown by 4% and Maine by 7%.

Bowdoinham Comprehensive Planning Committee Chair Joanne Joy said the town could place as many as 75 units on 1 acre but said that was more feasible for a city like Portland. Other options included two, six or 18 dwellings per acre, which residents found more palatable.


Assistant broker and Bowdoinham resident Cara Taggersell said she would like to see housing be “more town-focused and less developer-focused.” Taggersell wondered if more apartment units would attract younger residents and suggested the town purchase an empty Main Street lot that formerly housed the Gray Estate, which burned down last year.

The historic building was built in 1800 and transformed into six apartment units in 1974. The lot is still owned and maintained by Goodall Property Group LLC.

As residents continue to mull over what they want for future housing, they are certain of what they don’t want. Residents spoke against HOA fees that would challenge the autonomy of home buyers and possibly create a financial burden for residents.

Instead, they would like to see duplexes offered as rentals and tax incentives for individuals, not just developers.

“We anticipate it will be a fairly lengthy process to get from conversation to construction,” said Mary Mayo, Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative board chair. “Just changing the land use ordinances to allow for some construction ideas would require approval at a Town Meeting.”

A new comprehensive plan will be created and voted on in June 2024 — until then, housing remains a discussion.

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