Continuing work to resolve Maine’s housing challenges

Letter: Continuing work to resolve Maine’s housing challenges

Avatar photoby Opinion Contributor Updated September 25, 2023

The morning fog lifts beyond the Burton M. Cross Building, left, and the State House, June 21, in Augusta, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Being a design/build passive solar energy-efficient green contractor-developer for 50 years, coupled with my service on the Maine Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Housing, it is apparent that the need for newer, creative, and more plentiful affordable housing options for more than 20,000 households has never been greater. With big-box anchor brick-and-mortar retail stores increasingly going by the wayside in place of online shopping, abandoned commercial property offers an opportunity for new, mixed-use development, complete with regional housing on site.

During the first regular and first special sessions of the 131st Legislature, the Housing Committee had under its consideration LD 492, “An Act to Repurpose Vacant Shopping Mall and Retail Space to Mixed-use Housing and Retail.” Proposing to repurpose vacant shopping mall and retail space into mixed-use housing and retail is just the kind of outside-the-box consideration that is needed to address the escalating affordable housing crisis.

I was proud to sponsor this bill and work in collaboration with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see this bill through to its passage. My intent was to encourage, not mandate, communities to think beyond present zoning and comprehensive planning, thus to accommodate today’s needs cost effectively. Rest assured, my commitment to finding additional ideas to resolve this and other challenges Mainers face is steadfast.

Rep. Dick Campbell


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