Police & Fire

Greenville looking at housing ordinance changes

GREENVILLE — In late April 2022 Gov. Janet Mills signed an “An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Commission To Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions” or LD 2003. Per guidance on the act from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, the law is designed to remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to housing production in Maine, while preserving local ability to create land use plans and protect sensitive environmental resources.

To learn more about how this will impact the town, Greenville Code Enforcement Officer Ron Sarol recently attended a meeting in Guilford with officials from that community and Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Housing Opportunity Program Coordinators Hilary Gove and Benjamin Averill. He shared information and the next steps to be taken with the Greenville Planning Board during a Jan. 17 meeting.

The act guidance has sections relevant to municipalities, identifying amended sections of state law. Amendments include allowing for additional density for affordable housing developments in certain areas; generally requiring that municipalities allow between two and four housing units per lot where housing is permitted; requiring that municipalities allow accessory dwelling units to be located on the same lot as a single-family home under certain conditions; and requiring that the state establish statewide and regional housing production goals and set forth ways in which local governments can coordinate with that goal.

“It allows for increased density, just like it says, in residential areas where lots are big enough,” Sarol said. “It’s not changing lot sizes, it’s just in areas where the lot’s big enough you can now have up to four dwellings on one lot.”  

He said if a developer is building affordable housing in a subdivision, they can have bonus density compared to what was previously permitted.

Sarol said LD 2003 clearly defines an accessory dwelling unit. “You just can’t set up an 8-by-8 shed with a cot in it and say ‘it’s my accessory dwelling unit,’” he said, as these structures had not been clearly defined in Greenville’s ordinances.

“We’re going to have to rewrite the ordinances basically to include this stuff,” the code enforcement officer added.

Planning Board Chairperson John Contreni said he skimmed through the documents and noticed expenses incurred are reimbursable up to $10,000 from the state. He said this can include Sarol’s time and legal fees needed in the amendment of town ordinances.

“This law also gives towns authority to impose restrictions on short-term rentals, that’s in there as part of increasing the availability of housing,” Contreni said. He said the planning board will wait and see what the select board would like to do on this.

The chairperson said Greenville has until July 1 to implement LD 2003.

“It’s state law so we don’t need a special town meeting,” Contreni said, but a public hearing will take place to share information with residents. 

The planning board will meet with Gove and Averill, potentially at the next session on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

In other business, Sarol presented his report for 2023. He issued a total of 153 permits, many of which were for vendors and collected $11,426 in fees.

Sarol said he currently has six family home permits on his desk, which are each in various stages along the approval process and could be approved come the spring.

Contreni said the planning board still has vacancies for both alternate positions. “I would invite them to apply through the town’s website,” he said.

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