House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, speaks on the phone during the final legislative session, Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at the State House in Augusta, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — A weakened version of a top Democrat’s signature affordable housing push advanced in the Maine Legislature on Wednesday.

The measure from House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, comes out of a legislative commission formed last year to examine solutions to Maine’s housing crunch. An aggressive agenda emerged from those talks, including a prohibition of local caps on new residential construction and a state board that could overturn municipal planning decisions.

But Fecteau dropped those ideas from the measure this week. The strongest remaining provisions would take on single-family zoning by allowing up to four units on many lots previously zoned for one, require cities and towns to allow accessory units and offer state technical assistance to municipal planners looking to overhaul zoning codes.

The Legislature’s housing committee advanced the bill on an 8-3 vote on Thursday. It now faces final votes in the House and Senate in the coming weeks.

Fecteau called the finished product “a result of collaboration with people from all sides of this issue.” His original bill was backed by a wide coalition from the Maine State Chamber of Commerce to the progressive Maine People’s Alliance. It was opposed by the Maine Municipal Association, which represents cities and towns, for usurping local control.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...