Press release

Two public meetings in Southport regarding binding state law

Mon, 06/10/2024 - 8:45am

The town of Southport has been working for more than a year to develop an amendment to their Land Use Ordinance to bring it into compliance with a new state law relating to the availability of housing in the state. Formerly known as LD2003, the new law is binding on local municipalities.

Southport voters are invited to attend two public hearings on the changes that are required by the state. The first is to be held on Thursday, June 20 at 7 p.m. The second is Tuesday, June 25 at 7 p.m. Both will be held in the Southport Town Hall. A copy of the amendments can be found on the Southport town website’s Planning Board page.

"It is important for Southport voters to understand that the state left us no alternative with this legislation," said Skip Simonds, chair of the Southport Planning Board.  "The new law supersedes our Land Use Ordinance where it conflicts with the law. So even if this amendment we’ve developed were not to pass a local vote, the town would still be held accountable for the state's new standards."

Simonds explained that by law the Planning Board must make decisions based on the current Land Use Ordinance, and that the Board has no discretion to set aside the Ordinance even though it is to be superseded by the new state law.  This would force applicants to settle the difference in Superior Court, an expensive, time consuming, complicated process no one wants.

"It’s a Catch-22 situation," said Simonds.  "We really have no choice but to pass these amendments. It does not seem fair, but it is the reality we are faced with. I hope the public understands."

The town of Southport has scheduled a Special Town Meeting for July 1, the date the new law takes effect.