Paris committee recommends half-acre lot sizes

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PARIS — Town guidelines for the minimum lot size in rural areas appear to be on the move, after a committee recommended the size be shrunk from two acres to half an acre. 

The five-member Comprehensive Plan Amendment Committee recommended residential lot sizes be no less than 20,000 square feet, with 100 feet of road frontage.

The recommendation comes two weeks after selectmen tasked the committee with reviewing the Comprehensive Plan, which sets everything from the town’s economic vision to groundwater protection, outlines procedures for future land use practices, but doesn’t automatically set those guidelines into law.

For the past three years, Paris has looked to take the recommendations put forth in the plan and write a local zoning ordinance which would create five distinct districts, each with specific limitations on the type of businesses and land development that can occur.

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In deliberations, however, residents told town officials that they objected to a particular clause which would require the minimum lot size in rural areas to be two acres. 

In February, Paris held a lengthy public hearing at which residents voiced a mixed response to the proposed rules. Specifically, lot sizes proved controversial because some landowners thought increasing the minimum lot size impeded development of subdivisions. Proponents, however, said any lot under two acres threatened the rustic character of the region.

Because the proposed zoning ordinance is driven by the Comprehensive Plan, the document must first be rewritten before the changes can be made to the ordinance. 

The committee has taken the first step toward doing just that.

“We had some discussion, but everyone was of one mind. The decision was unanimous,” member David Shaw said. 

The committee will hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, for residents to offer their views on the proposal. Assuming voter assent, the committee could then move the measure forward to selectmen to have it adopted. 

“Really, until we have the public hearing on Nov. 10, we don’t know what the process moving forward is,” Town Manager Amy Bernard said.

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