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Politics

Mills signs zoning reform bill as Maine seeks to tackle affordable housing crisis

Pending Home Sales
Steven Senne/AP
/
AP
In this Dec. 27, 2011 photo, a sale pending sign hangs in front of a single-family home in Brookline, Mass.

Gov. Janet Mills has signed into law a bill that encourages development of more affordable housing to address a growing crisis in Maine.

The bill spearheaded by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau would allow property owners to build an additional living space, such as a separate apartment, onto existing homes or other structures. Property owners can build two "accessory dwelling units" in areas zoned for single-family housing or up to four units in larger communities with designated growth areas.

"So this legislation will fix some of our overly strict zoning laws by granting owners the flexibility to build more housing on their own properties under common-sense regulations, local regulations," Mills said.

Mills noted that while Maine's housing shortage is not new, the pandemic made things worse as people moving into the state eroded the supply of available homes and drove up prices. Democratic and Republican lawmakers attended Friday's bill signing ceremony, which was held at a former Augusta middle school that has been converted into senior housing.