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Proposal to expand units allowed on housing lots becomes law

The law comes comes at a time of rising home prices and long waitlists for people seeking affordable apartments.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Editor's note: The video attached to this story was published April 15, 2022. 

Maine Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday signed into law a bill that expands the number of dwellings that can be built on housing lots to help address the state's affordable housing crisis.

The new law allows accessory dwelling units and duplexes to be built in areas zoned for single-family housing. Up to four units would be allowed in designated “growth areas.”

LD 2003, "An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Commission to Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions," comes comes at a time of rising home prices and long waitlists for people seeking affordable apartments. Some businesses report that prospective employees are rejecting jobs based on a lack of housing.

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“We’re seeing rising home and rent costs impacting families from Aroostook County on down. I believe that with this legislation, Maine will be on the forefront on solving this crisis,” House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, the bill’s sponsor, said. 

The Maine Chamber of Commerce projects that 65,000 to 75,000 people are needed over the next 10 years to meet employer needs.

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"There is a clear link between housing and our workforce needs," chamber President Dana Connors said.

The governor also signed a bill extending for five years a tax credit for rehabilitating historic properties.

The bills were signed at a former school that was transformed into 47 apartments for seniors with help from the tax credit.

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