LEWISTON — The City Council held first readings Tuesday on several ordinance changes meant to put Lewiston in compliance with state legislation on housing, including identifying growth areas for potential affordable housing projects.

City staff said the list of changes were identified by the council and Planning Board after LD 2003 was passed in 2022.

The council voted on language that stipulates a “growth area overlay district,” where new housing development will be encouraged, as well as potential affordable housing projects with higher densities than currently allowed.

The state law allows affordable housing developments that meet certain criteria to be built at 2.5 times the allowed density within the designated growth district. The growth district map shows areas along Lewiston’s main arterials, which staff said “does not go into suburbia.”

Efforts to rezone neighborhoods to encourage new housing and get ahead of the state legislation have been met with pushback from residents in Auburn, but state officials have said the law is sorely needed to address Maine’s shortage of housing.

Lewiston resident Matt Roy told the council that its growth district did not go far enough, calling it an “outrageous design” and comparing it to gerrymandering. He said the state could’ve “avoided LD 2003 altogether” if cities like Lewiston didn’t promote exclusionary zoning that favored single-family neighborhoods for decades.

The list of ordinance changes also includes changes to the Riverfront zone to encourage further commercial and residential development.

All items were approved unanimously in first reading, and previously received a favorable recommendation by the Planning Board.

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