The future of affordable housing in Cape Elizabeth is now in the hands of the Town Council, which was presented with the Housing Diversity Study Committee’s final report on Monday.

The council will schedule a workshop to set goals based on the report’s recommendations and prioritize strategies to meet them.

The report proposes that 125 affordable housing units and 50 accessory dwelling units be built in town by 2035.

The report proposes that 125 affordable housing units and 50 accessory dwelling units be built in town over the next 10 years. Screenshot

Kevin Justh, chair of the committee, laid out for the council strategies outlined in the report. Some would require financial investment from the town, he said, including an analysis of the town center’s parking needs, an inventory of the town’s open spaces and recreational resources, and exploring the southern portion of Gull Crest Fields for development.

Other strategies, such as pursuing state and federal funding, won’t cost taxpayers, he said. In Maine, “95% of affordable housing is funded through the low-income housing tax credit program. It doesn’t require a single dollar of town money, generally, to do it,” he said.

But the most important strategy in the short term, he said, is determining the desired density of certain areas of town.


“These are tools at the town’s disposal, but none of those really matter until; one, you set the goal, and two, you alter the zoning,” Justh said. “Once we do those things, the rest will follow.”

Council Chair Tim Reiniger questioned why the goal of 125 affordable units in 10 years was lower than the goals recommended in the Housing Diversity Study conducted by Camoin Associates.

“The study recommended a moderate goal of 200 new affordable units and an ambitious goal of 450,” Reiniger said. “The committee recommended 125, so how did the committee come to 125?”

Councilor Stephanie Anderson, a member of the housing committee, said the consultant’s suggested goals are based on a benchmark of 10% of units in a municipality being affordable.

“Cape Elizabeth is a very rural town. We have a lot of areas that are protected. We have a lot of area that is farmland,” Anderson said. “We’re hoping that 125 is low and we’re going to hit that, and maybe even go over, but we didn’t want to set a housing goal based on some sort of national average … without regard to the nature of the community itself.”

A Sebago Technics study of a 22-acre parcel at Gull Crest determined it would be a feasible site for an affordable housing project, but it would pose building challenges because of its sloped terrain and potential health and environmental concerns because it is adjacent to a landfill and sewer plant. The housing committee voted 4-3 to take the site out of consideration, but Anderson and committee members Curtis Kelly and Councilor Tim Thompson filed a “minority report” to keep Gull Crest on the table.


“I believe there’s an agenda item on our next meeting to take the next step that was suggested by Sebago Technics to determine whether or not there are environmental concerns that would impact any kind of consideration for housing there,” Anderson said.

Councilor Penny Jordan said some of the report’s recommendations are hot-button topics, and it will likely take time for the community to determine which direction it would like to take.

“I don’t know if you guys followed L.D. 2003,” Jordan said, referring to the town’s compliance with state-mandated zoning changes to encourage new affordable housing, “but density was not a popular subject. So, that’s going to be another pinch point that we just need to be aware of.”

Resident John Voltz urged the council to set its goals swiftly and begin moving forward.

“Agree and set the goals, and set what are the priorities you can agree on to pursue,” Voltz said. “I think there is a tremendous amount of work here, and a lot of it is heading in the right direction, but if you don’t set a goal, you’re guaranteed to meet it.”

Reiniger said the housing committee’s work will have a lasting impact on the town.

“I believe this is one report that won’t just get filed and archived and not seen again,” he said, holding the report aloft which, with its supporting documentation of community forums, resident surveys and various presentations, totals over 360 pages. “I think this will be used quite a bit in a lot of active discussions, so thank you for that.”

The Housing Diversity Study Committee’s final report can be found at

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