AUBURN — The City Council voted 5-2 Monday to table a final reading on the proposed rezoning of the city’s core residential area until November, after councilors said more educational meetings should be scheduled.

Voting in favor were Joe Morin, Ryan Hawes, Dana Staples, Leroy Walker and Steve Milks; opposed were Belinda Gerry and Rick Whiting.

The zoning, known as T-4.2B, was created following concerns from neighborhood residents over the previous iteration that allows for more variety of housing types and commercial uses in the mostly single-family neighborhoods. However, a number of residents, including those behind a citizens’ petition effort, have argued that the new zoning has been created without sufficient input from the public and needs more public support to ultimately be successful.

Following a motion from Morin, the final vote on the rezoning will be postponed until at least Nov. 7. Morin said he supports the zoning type and believes it will be beneficial for the city, but believes the public needs to hear more about how it could impact them.

“I’d like to go deeper and cast a broader net to allow people to understand what the actual implications are versus perceptions,” he said.

The rezoning has proven controversial, and the council has received criticism for how it responded to a citizens’ petition that forced the repeal of the previous T-4.2 zoning for the same 1,687 acres. Many have argued that the new zoning type is largely the same and was created to make an “end-run” around the successful petition.


However, city officials and those in support say the form-based zoning type has multiple benefits to the city and has been part of long-term planning efforts for years. They also argue that it will put the city a step ahead of LD 2003, state legislation that is set to allow more density statewide when it becomes law next year.

The council approved a first reading of the rezoning two weeks ago, and last week the Planning Board gave a favorable recommendation.

During discussion, Morin said the latest presentation from planning staff was the best explainer of the new zoning that he had seen, and believes the public should have more opportunities for education and questions and answers. However, the sessions would not necessarily garner feedback that would change the overall zoning, officials said.

Whiting, who voted against tabling, called the idea the “most tone deaf thing I’ve heard in ages.” He said the public wants to be part of the debate over the new zoning.

“The public has been lectured to long enough,” he said. “They don’t want to hear for the fifteenth time how great this is.”

Elizabeth Dunn, who has been outspoken against the change, said she and the other 2,400 people who signed the original petition are “not satisfied” by the changes reflected in T-4.2B.

“You have an opportunity to show you are listening and vote this down, and start over together,” she said.

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