State-mandated changes to Cape Elizabeth ordinances to reduce barriers to new housing caused friction at a Town Council workshop Wednesday, with some councilors objecting to proposed revisions and one councilor questioning the integrity of Town Planner Maureen O’Meara.

The town’s Ordinance Committee drafted the revisions to bring Cape Elizabeth into compliance with a state law, LD 2003, which is designed to reduce the barriers to constructing multi-family and affordable housing in Maine. The town must be in compliance by Jan. 1.

The revisions loosen density restrictions for some affordable housing developments, allow more accessory dwelling units on single-family properties and decrease parking requirements for multi-family developments.

Councilor Susan Gillis objected to one of the proposed revisions allowing property owners who meet lot size and setback criteria to build as many as three additional units on a lot now designated for a single-family home. People could tear down a house and build a four-unit apartment in its place, she said.

“If I lived next door to a potential situation like that, I’d be BS,” Gillis said.

If a single-family home is torn down for redevelopment, only a single-family home should take its place, she said.


Councilor Caitlin Jordan said while there are technically lots in town that would be eligible, there are few and it’s doubtful a lot of people would be looking to tear down their homes to make more units.

Councilor Tim Reiniger said he the town should go with the bare minimum on every LD 2003 requirement, while Councilor Gretchen Noonan said she wishes the ordinance committee had been more aggressive in its proposals and gone  beyond what the state is mandating.

Reiniger questioned why the Greater Portland Council of Governments was involved in a town forum on the state mandate last month. He asked O’Meara if she knew personally the consultant hired by GPCOG to assist with a regional housing study.

O’Meara said she knows the consultant professionally and personally. The consultant has worked with many communities on LD 2003, she said, as they were hired by GPCOG’s Metro Regional Coalition to conduct a regional study. Town and city mangers and council chairs from Cape Elizabeth, South Portland, Falmouth, Gorham, Portland, Scarborough and Westbrook, along with a Cumberland County representative, make up the coalition.

Town Manager Matt Sturgis said the consultant made a presentation on the regional study to the Cape Elizabeth Town Council in June 2021, before Reiniger was elected to his council seat. In April 2022, Cape Elizabeth hired Camoin Associates, a different consultant, to conduct its own Housing Diversity Study.

Some councilors objected to Reiniger’s questioning. Noonan said it sounded as if Reiniger believed O’Meara was part of a conspiracy.


“The ordinance came from your colleagues sitting up here, the ordinance committee,” she said, saying Reiniger’s questions suggested O’Meara crafted the changes to bring the town in line with LD 2003 on her own.

“It’s not a conspiracy, at all. It’s a carefully coordinated effort, the planner is friendly with (the consultant),” Reiniger said. “It all makes sense to me.”

Caitlin Jordan asked Reiniger if his “accusation” was that O’Meara “orchestrated putting all of (the consultant’s) things into our ordinance.”

“I’m not accusing her of anything,” Reiniger said.

“That’s exactly what you’re doing right now,” Jordan replied.

“It did sound like you were accusing me of being a part of a conspiracy,” O’Meara said.

As the workshop was coming to a close Wednesday, Councilor Penny Jordan noted the heightened local interest in the implementation of the state mandate and concerns from residents about how it could change the community.

“We can’t stop change. We can only manage it,” she said.

The council will hold a public hearing on the amendments Nov. 13. For more information on Cape Elizabeth’s steps toward the implementation of LD 2003 since it was signed into state law in April, 2022, go to the “LD 2003” page  at

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