LEWISTON — City officials will likely revisit its zoning rules regulating where homeless shelters can be located in the city.

During a workshop discussion Tuesday, the City Council appeared largely in favor of making its current zoning ordinance less restrictive as the city continues to face a homelessness crisis and is pursuing a city-run shelter.

At least two councilors questioned why the shelter overlay zone is even needed.

The zone, which was implemented by the previous City Council in 2022 following a controversial moratorium, restricts where shelters can be located.

However, a previous ad hoc shelter committee, as well as the Planning Board, both recommended that the overlay be amended to allow greater flexibility.

The previous committee said the overlay should be expanded to include the Riverfront, Enterprise, Mill and Centreville zoning districts.


Councilors on Tuesday said some type of exclusions should remain, including some commercial areas where the city is prioritizing economic development.

Councilor Josh Nagine said the process should also involve the city’s new shelter committee, which was established last month to pursue a 24-hour shelter in Lewiston.

Nagine said he didn’t agree with the overlay zone when it was created, but said “commercial corridors” like downtown Lisbon Street and other areas like the riverfront should remain excluded.

“I want a city-directed shelter but in the best place we can possibly put it,” he said.

Council President Scott Harriman agreed regarding certain areas, but said “as long as the shelter meets the underlying zoning it ought to be available everywhere.”

“It needs to be in the right place, but I’m concerned about arbitrary lines,” said Mayor Carl Sheline.


Councilor David Chittim said during the review, officials should also look at the shelter ordinance passed by the previous council, which lays out the licensing process for shelters.

He said the city should “remove as many hurdles to providing these services as possible.”

Staff was asked Tuesday to schedule a joint workshop between the council and Planning Board to revisit the overlay zone.

According to a staff memo, the Planning Board supported creating a second overlay district outside the downtown, including in the industrial areas near Exit 80 on Interstate 95.

The discussion Tuesday came as officials begin a new ad hoc committee process that could result in a city-run shelter.

Sheline outlined committee appointments Tuesday, which had been previously supported by the council.

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