KENNEBUNKPORT — Municipalities that have a town meeting format face a July 1 deadline to implement changes to their land use and zoning code to comply with LD 2003, a sweeping state law that removes barriers to housing construction.

But the changes will likely be little felt by the community, say town officials, in part due to the high cost of land in Kennebunkport — which will offset the impact of one of the law’s key provisions — and because some of the town’s land use code already aligns with the law.

The town is on track to implement some of the necessary changes by July 1, but not all. Voters can expect two of the three core components of the law to appear on the June 2024 ballot.

There is no penalty from the state for not complying by July, but the town runs the risk of being sued for not being in compliance with state law, according to Town Manager Laurie Smith.

The public heard from Kennebunkport’s Director of Planning and Development Galen Weibley, the Select Board, the Growth Planning Committee, the Planning Board, and Hilary Gove, a housing opportunity program coordinator at the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), during a Feb. 20 workshop to discuss LD 2003.

Gove, from the DECD, explained to the law’s three core prongs to attendees: municipalities must allow an accessory dwelling unit on any lot with an existing single family home; they must allow for between two to four units on lots where housing is already permitted; and they must  implement a bonus density (the ability to build more) for developers who make 51% of their units affordable. The density bonus only applies to designated growth areas that are also zoned for multi-family housing.


The second provision is perhaps the most complicated part of the statute. Generally speaking, lots zoned residential that currently have no units can add up to two dwelling units; however, an empty lot in an area zoned for growth can have up to four units built on that plot. On lots with one existing dwelling unit, someone may add up to two dwelling units.

Because local land use code differs from location to location, what exactly a municipality needs to update to conform with LD 2003 varies.

Kennebunkport’s land use and zoning code already allowed for much of what the creators of LD 2003 envisioned.

For example, Kennebunkport allows multiple dwellings per lot as long as they adhere to certain zoning restrictions. “On a 10-acre lot, I could put eight or 10 single-family homes … I don’t see how this is really of consequence to us,” Planning Board member Edward Francis said of the 2-4 unit provision on Feb. 20.

Gove said that “some municipalities only allow single-family homes in their communities,” where the impact of LD 2003 would be greater. “It might not be felt that much throughout your community,” she said.

Kennebunkport also already allows ADUs — which they call accessory apartments — throughout the town. The law gives municipalities the option to cap the size of ADUs, which Kennebunkport already has done, setting the limit at 800 square feet.


When it comes to the density bonus, it’s unlikely the provision will prompt a large building boom. Under the provision, a developer may build two and a half times as densely if he or she makes 51% of their units affordable. But land in Kennebunkport is expensive, which is a hurdle toward building units that are affordable, explained Galen, the director of planning and development.

“It’s going to be a lot more limited than what we think it’s going to be,” he said of future growth from the density bonus.

The provisions concerning accessory dwelling units (or accessory apartments) and the density bonus are the two measures headed for the June 2024 ballot for voters to approve.

According to Smith, the town needs more time to discuss the provision that allows for additional 2-4 units being built on an empty plot. That component will likely appear before voters this fall.

As of late January, the town’s Growth Planning Committee still needed to go through the language of the provision, assess its impact on the town, and offer comments, according to town documents.

Traci Gere, who represents Kennebunkport in House District 134, joined the meeting virtually and said she was heartened by the discussion. She suggested that the town host a public session to hear from a key player in the affordable housing space, like the nonprofit affordable housing developer Avesta Housing or the Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust, a local affordable home builder.


Gere is chair of the Joint Select Committee on Housing and also sits on the Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing.

Former House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, who sponsored LD 2003, said that he’s been excited by how the law’s implementation has sparked larger conversations about land use and affordable development.

“I’ve seen so many communities have conversations that go well beyond the scope of LD 2003. They’re thinking about this issue more holistically, and having conversations about housing that maybe they haven’t had in a very long time. And that to me is even more significant than the provision contained in (the law),” he told the Kennebunk Post in January.

That dynamic was on display during Kennebunkport’s workshop, where members of the three bodies discussed affordable rental enforcement and the funding mechanisms available to a developer looking to build affordable units.

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