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Legislative commission calls for incentives, eliminating single-family zoning to address Maine's housing crisis

Jill Baker
Maine Public

A legislative commission is calling on the state to incentivize towns to change their zoning laws, as part of a series of recommendations for addressing Maine's housing crisis.

Other proposals include ending single-family zoning restrictions in residential areas statewide and allowing up to four housing units on each lot. Other suggestions include allowing accessory dwelling units in all single-family zones.

House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, who co-chaired the group, said at the commission's final meeting on Thursday that the next challenge will be convincing lawmakers to take action.

"To ultimately throw their support behind whatever we put forward as a bill, or bills," he said. "And I hope you will all be part of that progress in helping us turn these recommendations into reality"

Democratic Sen. Craig Hickman, another co-chair, said that urgent steps are needed to address the state's housing shortage.

"We have a big problem in the state. Homelessness is going up, as we speak," he said. "And we may need to do things we didn't even consider, in this commission, but the time we make the policy. That's what's sad about where we were. But I still have hope we'll get this right."

The report also suggests that lawmakers study the effects of short-term rental properties, such as Airbnb, and look at the benefits and drawbacks of more regulation. It will be sent to the legislature's labor and housing committee