LD 2003 Public Forum Press Release


Contact Tom Bell, (207) 613-4361


Cape Elizabeth Town Council to Host Public Forum on Oct. 16 to Discuss Compliance with State Law LD 2003

Cape Elizabeth, Sept 27 - The Town of Cape Elizabeth is set to hold a public forum on October 16, at 7 p.m., at Town Hall. The forum aims to provide an overview of housing ordinance revisions currently under review by the Town Council. The focus of this event is to address questions regarding proposed ordinance amendments aimed at aligning the town with the new state law, LD 2003. This law seeks to remove certain zoning barriers to promote diverse housing options throughout Maine.

The proposed ordinance amendments introduce new zoning regulations that would grant Cape Elizabeth residents greater flexibility in creating accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Additionally, it updates rules concerning small multifamily buildings (2-4 units) and provides provisions for affordable housing density bonuses. The Town, like all Maine municipalities, is required to amend its current regulations to comply with LD 2003.

The forum will be focused on addressing questions from the public. This forum is not intended to provide information on the status of individual lots.

Town Councilor Penny Jordan, who chairs the Ordinance Committee, encourages residents to come forward with their questions and concerns. 

“This ordinance change is really complex,” Jordan said. “The complexity means there can be a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions. We’re trying to provide clarity. To do that, we need to hear people’s questions and respond to them at the forum.”

Jordan said she does not anticipate the ordinance will lead to a proliferation of ADUs due to setback requirements and construction costs. Cape Elizabeth currently allows ADUs, but only one or two have been permitted annually in recent years.

LD 2003, passed by the Maine Legislature last year, will be implemented statewide on January 1, 2024. The law seeks to address Maine's critical housing shortage.

In addition to legalizing ADUs statewide, LD 2003 mandates that municipalities allow two to four units per house lot in designated growth areas (provided that setback and other existing zoning requirements are met). In other areas of town, up to two units will be allowed on a lot, again, subject to setback and zoning requirements.

The law also requires the creation of an automatic density bonus, allowing affordable-housing developers to build 2.5 times the number of units permitted under local zoning regulations in designated growth areas.

Rather than directly adopting state language, each town must incorporate the state mandates into its existing zoning ordinances by passing an ordinance. The Cape Elizabeth Ordinance Committee, composed of three Town Council members, has drafted a proposal that has been reviewed and approved by the town attorney.

Failure to adopt a new housing ordinance by January 1, 2024, could potentially result in legal action against the town. The Town Council, which held the first public hearing on July 17, 2023, is expected to conduct a second public hearing in November, after which a vote may be taken.

The proposed ordinance includes the following provisions:

  • One ADU per home will be allowed.

  • ADUs cannot be used for short-term rentals (less than 30 days).


  • Setback requirements for ADUs will be consistent with those for single-family homes.


  • State law prohibits the town from requiring parking for an ADU. The town's current parking requirements will still apply to new multifamily developments.


  • While LD 2003 does not provide a maximum size for an ADU unit, the proposed ordinance sets a maximum size of 1,100 square feet, which is equivalent to the size of a typical two-bedroom apartment. The town's current maximum ADU size is 600 square feet.


  • The owner of a single-family home could tear down the house and build a small multifamily structure if the lot is sufficiently large. However, few single-family homes would meet the town's minimum lot size requirements.


  • In designated growth areas, up to four units could be built, subject to setbacks and existing zoning rules.


  • In other parts of town, two to three units may be permitted on a lot, provided the lots meet minimum size requirements. It's worth noting that less than 12 percent of lots have enough land for additional units to be considered an option.


  • The terms "multiplex" and "multifamily" in the town's zoning ordinance are synonymous.


The meeting will be broadcast on the public access television channel. Residents can participate in person or via Zoom. The agenda and Zoom link will be posted on the town's website. 


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