The small city of Belfast, Maine, looks set to join many other cities and states across the country that have amended their zoning codes recently to allow for more flexible zoning options. These zoning amendments are seen as viable ways of providing affordable housing amidst a nationwide housing crisis where demand for housing is far outstripping supply.
The proposed changes in Belfast would create a more flexible approach to zoning. Seven new zoning districts would be established in areas throughout the city, most notably excluding the downtown area. The city planning board has dubbed the approach “flex housing”. (bangordailynews.com, 2022)
Flex housing would allow homeowners to build what they want on their land depending on the lot size and whether or not the property is attached to the public sewer system. For example, someone with a half-acre lot attached to the public sewer is allowed up to four dwelling units. They are allowed to mix and match the types of housing they want to build on that half-acre, and can combine single-family, duplexes and triplexes on one lot, so long as they don’t exceed the four dwelling unit maximum. (bangordailynews.com, 2022)
The planning board hopes that these new flexible zoning laws can help give homeowners and developers some creative options for what they want to do with their property, while also helping create more affordable housing. The proposed amendments are set to be voted on at the beginning of April.