AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, Governor Mills signed LD 609, “Resolve, To Establish a Commission To Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions” from House Speaker Ryan Fecteau into law. The bill paves the way for more affordable housing in Maine. The bill will establish a commission to review barriers to producing more affordable housing in Maine.
“Affordable housing is an urgent issue for our economy and workforce, not to mention the dignity of older Mainers and young families with children,” said Speaker Fecteau. “This bill will let Maine cut the red tape standing in the way of building and revitalizing more affordable housing here in Maine. In too many municipalities, a web of zoning and land use ordinances and state laws are preventing sensible affordable housing projects — big and small — from coming to fruition. This commission will not establish mandates for towns. Instead, the commission will be asked to establish model policies with incentives for towns to adopt them on their own”
“The problem in Maine is that it’s simply too hard to site new housing projects in much of Maine. Zoning ordinances, most of which were developed at an earlier time, often create unintentional barriers to the kinds of housing that most communities now say they want more of: affordable multifamily and workforce housing,” said Erik Jorgensen of MaineHousing.
The emergency measure passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support.
The fifteen member commission will begin work following appointments. The committee will include Legislators from both parties, one member representing a statewide municipal association, one representing a statewide organization that advocates for affordable housing, one representing statewide agricultural interests and one who is in the building trades, one representing a regional planning association or a statewide organization that advocates for smart growth policies and projects, one representing the real estate industry, one who is a residential developer, one representing an organization that advocates for low-income or middle-income renters or homeowners and one representing a local or statewide organization promoting civil rights that has racial justice or racial equity as its primary mission, among others.