Committee OKs Libby’s bill to cut red tape for mill redevelopment

Posted: April 26, 2017 | Senator Libby

Municipalities and developers looking to redevelop old mill sites into housing and commercial developments would see red tape cut by legislation introduced by Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, on Wednesday.

“Encouraging development in our cities’ historic mill buildings is essential for the continued revitalization of Maine’s cities and their downtowns,” said Sen. Libby. “We’ve seen in Lewiston what can happen when a former mill gets new occupants and a new life. We want to see that happen up and down the state, and removing onerous and duplicative permitting processes will help make that happen.”

The bill — LD 805 “An Act To Streamline the Municipal Review Process When Dividing a Structure into 3 or More Dwelling Units and To Amend the Process for Recording Subdivision Variances” — was the subject of a public hearing in the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday.

Currently, municipalities which have a site plan review process must also go through the state subdivision review process in order to divide one building or property into multiple units — an additional bureaucratic process that increases the cost of redevelopment and the time it takes to breathe new life into old mills.

The bill would allow municipalities that have their own site plan review process to undertake a site plan review of the project without also having to also go through state subdivision review. Additionally, because the timing of permits and applications necessary for subdivision work, developers often have to apply multiple times for waivers from certain sections multiple times over the course of work for the same waiver. This bill would streamline that process so the waivers only need to be applied for once.

The Maine Association of Realtors, the Associated General Contractors of Maine, GrowSmart Maine, and the Maine Real Estate and Development Association all spoke in support of LD 805.

LD 805 now heads to the Senate for initial votes.