June 21, 2018
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Affordable housing incentives score half-victory in Castine

By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff

CASTINE, Maine — Voters approved a new subdivision ordinance on Tuesday but said no to new zoning rules.

The referendum to replace the town’s subdivision rules with updated ones narrowly passed in a 272-266 vote. Another, to update the town’s zoning ordinance failed in a 278-257 vote.

The zoning and subdivision amendments were meant to update town rules to reflect changes in state law and clean up incongruous or confusing language. It would also provide incentives for affordable housing development, which Town Manager Dale Abernethy said is crucial in attracting young, working families to Castine.

The approved subdivision ordinance gives affordable-housing subdivisions a 25 percent boost in the number of units that can be placed in cluster developments. Where regular subdivision rules allow for 4 units on a subdivided 8-acre lot — one each on half-acre division, with the remaining six acres undeveloped and preserved — affordable housing subdivisions will be eligible for a bonus fifth unit under the new rules.

The zoning ordinances included language that would have allowed affordable housing developers to count wetland acres on a parcel toward the 2-acre minimum lot size. Normally, wetlands cannot be used toward the minimum.

Many residents opposed the zoning and subdivision changes, feeling the replacement ordinances forced too much change through a single vote. Some said such sweeping changes should be taken up at the annual Town Meeting and decided line by line.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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