Commentary: Supporters are proud to defend Cape Town’s affordable housing plan
We have never been a candidate for public office, but we respect almost everyone who does. People who are willing to serve and take their public service seriously should be respected and thanked.
Cape Elizabeth City Council deliberates on four zoning requests amendments and a tax increase financing plan for promoters of multi-income rental apartment projects in the city center. Since January, these duly elected councilors have listened, researched and continued to weave their way through what has been a deliberative and public process. DDecisions will not be made until October 13.
The zoning changes involve height restrictions, per-unit land tenure requirements and the elimination of commercial space on the ground floor. We support these requested changes, and as members of Cape Citizens for Affordable Housing, we have made our support public. We are also the ones who donated the land for the Village Green and currently own the lots on which the apartments, known as Dunham Court, would be built. In fact, we are building a new dental office next door.
A group in Cape Elizabeth that opposes these zoning changes has decided that if council votes to approve them, they will push for a referendum to overturn the council vote. It’s important to note that we don’t know who is leading this effort. because they don’t sign their names to anything. No name on their correspondence, no name on their website.
That group, Save Our Center, has announced its referendum effort as it appears the board is preparing to move forward with its approval. The group said such a move is too important for a handful of city councilors.
Aside from supporting much-needed affordable housing in Cape Town, let’s look at what a referendum would say about city council, which is, “We don’t like the council’s decision, we don’t like the council’s decision. therefore cannot trust them to do it. “If the board were to object, would Save Our Center still say it’s too big for the board to handle? Of course not.
Save Our Center was launched months ago to oppose Dunham Court. A website has been set up, a petition sent to city council, a GoFundMe page has been launched, letters – many with false and misleading information – have been sent to council and the local Cape Courier.
In the wake of this unprecedented attack on the supply of affordable housing in Cape Elizabeth, the developer – an established company, The Szanton Co. – finally called on his supporters to speak out. We have, and in large numbers. Speaking up, however, now has opponents of Dunham Court’s tsk-tsking and is spreading the word that we are embarking on a campaign of shame, guilt and division.
Aside from the fact that the opening line of their own website disputes this, we Cape Citizens for Affordable Housing invite anyone to check out our website, the ads we have placed in the Courier and the brochures we have distributed. . Only positivity, facts and testimonials from people who support Dunham Court. The Szanton Co. has had individual and group meetings with the people of Cape Town.
They offered tours of their current properties. They answered all questions, were transparent in sharing information. They have added more units to more rooms. In short, they were open and responsive. There is no shame, guilt or division on the part of the developer or Cape Citizens for Affordable Housing.
What is even more disheartening is that opponents at Dunham Court are using the threat of a referendum as a weapon against the project and the council. Now we are hearing rumors that people are willing to spend a lot of money on a referendum unless commercial space is part of the plan. Does anyone see the irony of raising and spending money to keep affordable apartments out of Cape Elizabeth?
Our mission has always been to provide the facts, correct misinformation and open the door to affordable housing in Cape Elizabeth for the first time in 50 years. Many in Cape are proud that someone thought we would be a welcoming community.
We hope Cape Elizabeth Councilors will approve the zoning changes and the TIF. We also urge the people of Cape Town to think twice before signing a referendum petition pushed by people who think the public deliberations of our city council cannot be trusted, but who are behind a whisper campaign and anonymity.