KENNEBUNKPORT — The town of Kennebunkport has released the results of a community survey that gathered resident input on what to do with the Village Parcel, an undeveloped site between North Street and School Street. Respondents were most excited about conserving space to support outdoor recreation, though many also supported constructing affordable housing.

The land, a nearly 90-acre plot, was acquired by the town in 2018 for $10 million. Voters authorized the purchase after plans for a subdivision by a Massachusetts-based development group fell through. Kennebunkport later convened a committee to issue a report on community priorities for the site, which was released in 2020 following multiple community input sessions. Thirty-seven acres of the plot have already been earmarked to preserve wetlands.

The town of Kennebunkport has released the results of a community survey that gathered resident input on what to do with the Village Parcel, an undeveloped site between North Street and School Street. Dan King photo

The town has now revived the community input process with the survey released last month. A total of 599 residents fully completed the survey, which was 17 questions long and allowed respondents to offer additional comments.

Question 1 asked residents what they would like the Village Parcel to be used for, and allowed them to select multiple options. The top choices were “Greenspace or outdoor recreation,” which garnered 74 percent support, and “Housing,” which secured 51 percent support. When offered three potential options for the developable portion of the Village Parcel — conserve additional land, work with partners to create affordable housing, or maximize market-rate development — 49 percent of respondents said conserving land was a high priority for them, and 45 percent of respondents said that building affordable housing was a high priority. Sixty-eight percent said developing market-rate housing was a low priority.

“There seems to be pretty equally matched interest in keeping part of that parcel undeveloped open space and have part of that parcel be used for affordable housing options,” said Larissa Crockett, the executive director of the Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust, a nonprofit that raises funds to construct affordable housing. “And that’s actually really great development.”

If the town moves forward with constructing affordable housing on the Village Parcel, the Kennebunk Heritage Housing Trust would aim to be the entity that develops some of the land, said Crockett.


Crockett said that the survey indicates that the community understands the threat posed by the high number of people who only live in the town seasonally, which she said pushes up housing prices.

“We can certainly celebrate and be grateful for our seasonal residents that bring vitality and vibrancy to the community,” said Crockett, “but if you don’t have year round residents — people that are living in your community year round, sending kids to schools, showing up at soccer games, … running for political office … and serving on all of the boards and committees that make government work — then are you a town any longer? There’s there’s a point where you are no longer a community, you’re a gated tourist resort.”

According to the Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust, only 56 percent of property owners live in town year round.

“The short-term rental business is negatively impacting the Town in many ways and needs to be curtailed,” wrote one survey respondent.

The survey dovetails with a larger conversation about housing affordability in Maine. According to a report released by Maine state agencies last week, the state needs over 80,000 additional homes by 2030 in order to remedy underproduction and account for expected population growth. The study also found that buying a house in Maine is unaffordable for a majority of households, who must make more than $100,000 a year to afford the median home price.

The state legislature has also taken action to tackle the affordability crisis. In April 2022, the legislature passed LD2003, a bill that requires municipalities to change their ordinances so there are lower barriers to creating new housing. For municipalities with a town meeting format, such as Kennebunkport, the deadline to comply with the state law is now July 1, 2024. The law also commits state assistance for municipalities to support housing targets.

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