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Sanford’s current zoning map. Under the new proposal, the Single Family Residential Zone (shown in orange) will be merged with the Residential Development Zone (shown in gray). Photo: Sanford GIS

By Zendelle Bouchard

At the City Council meeting Dec. 5., 2023, public hearings were held on proposed changes to the City’s zoning ordinances in response to the passage of LD2003 by the state legislature. See our previous story. The Council discussed at length the two issues involved with Planning Director Jamie Cole and City Planner Erin Moriarty.


One ordinance pertains to accessory dwelling units or ADUs, commonly called in-law apartments. The changes mandated by state law will allow two ADUs on any property located within the Growth Zone as defined in Sanford’s Comprehensive Plan. Properties outside the growth zone will be allowed one ADU. An ADU may be created from part of the principal structure, be an addition to the principal structure, or may be a free-standing structure. Cole noted that under fire and building codes, ADUs are counted as dwelling units, and any property with three or more total dwelling units must have a sprinkler system.

The major differences between a house with an ADU and a two-family house are that no additional parking is required for an ADU, and ADUs are not counted toward the density requirements for residential properties. The size of an ADU will be capped at up to 40% of the principal dwelling, or 1,000 square feet, whichever is larger.

Moriarty recommended removing the requirement for a property with an ADU to be owner-occupied, but after some discussion, a majority of the Council was in favor of keeping the owner-occupied requirement, at least for now.

Residential Zones

The second proposed ordinance merges the Single Family Residential Zone into the Residential Development Zone. The new state law mandates that any residential lot in the Growth Zone may have up to four dwelling units if it meets density and setback requirements, and residential properties outside the Growth Zone may have up to two dwelling units per lot. However, Sanford’s ordinance allows up to six dwelling units per acre with a “density bonus” of ten dwelling units per acre allowed if certain criteria are met, and the new proposed ordinance retains that.

One major proposed change is that the minimum street frontage is being reduced to 65’ for the new combined Residential Development Zone. The current RD Zone has a minimum 80’ street frontage requirement. The minimum lot size is also shrinking to 7,500 square feet, or 6,000 square feet with development review. Moriarty showed a diagram illustrating several different ways residential properties could be reconfigured to meet the density bonus.

This was the first reading for these proposed new ordinances. They will have a second reading and vote at the next Council meeting on Dec. 19. Moriarty indicated that additional new zoning ordinances are also in the works.

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