Paris selectmen review town laws

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PARIS – Selectmen approved three ordinances Monday to go before special town meetings, though not without discussing possible revisions.

Selectman Raymond Glover asked for an amendment to the appeals board ordinance stating that a new election for chair and vice chairman shall be held if a permanent vacancy opens in either position.

“It’s not automatic,” Glover said. “He needs to be elected.”

Chairman Ernest Fitts III disagreed with the amendment, saying it was his assumption that in the event of a vacancy in the chairman’s seat, the vice chairman would move up. He gave the order of presidential succession utilized by the federal government as an example.

The amendment was defeated in a 3-2 vote with Fitts, David Ivey and Glen Young voting against it. Glover and Gerald Kilgore voted for it.

The issue appeared again during review of the municipal officers’ bylaws, where Glover proposed the same amendment. He said members elected the vice chairman and could decide whether they wanted that person to advance to chairman.

David Stanley of Paris commented that such a measure would give the board a choice in the matter if the board found the vice chairman unfit for the job, rather than granting an automatic advancement.

Fitts also proposed that the time allowed for the board to reconsider a decision be extended from 30 days to 45 days, which would allow the selectmen to meet three times rather than twice after the initial decision.

Glover said actions taken by the town depend on the board decisions, and that a longer time period would make it harder to back off from the initial decision.

At Ivey’s request, a decision on the matter was tabled until the next selectmen’s meeting.

Selectmen approved the appeals board ordinance as well as an addressing ordinance and Planning Board ordinance to go before special town meetings. The addressing ordinance seeks to easily identify building locations, as well as emergency and postal services. It was last approved in 1997, while the appeals board and Planning Board ordinances were last approved in 1968.

Glover commented that Young’s wife is serving on the Planning Board, in conflict with the proposed ordinance. The ordinance states that neither a municipal officer nor his or her spouse may be a Planning Board member.

Town Manager Sharon Jackson said an identical condition on the appeals board ordinance is state law. She said no such law exists for the Planning Board ordinance, but that the condition was added after noting that several other towns made the Planning Board ordinance compliant with the appeals board ordinance.

Glover said selectmen control appointments and disciplinary actions for Planning Board members, and that the article helps prevent conflicts of interest. Jackson said the ordinance was drafted prior to Young’s election to the Board of Selectmen in June.

The board unanimously approved the subdivision fees proposed by the Planning Board. These fees include $400 per lot or dwelling unit for minor subdivisions and $800 per lot or dwelling unit for major subdivisions to be allocated toward recreational purposes. These fees were set by the subdivision ordinance that passed in June and are not subject to review.

Selectmen also voted to share an emergency management coordinator with the towns of Greenwood, Woodstock and West Paris.

Carol West was appointed to the recreation committee as a regular member, and Lacey Coore as an alternate. The board accepted the resignation of Gail Brusoe from the conservation and budget committees.

Fitts said he had been approached by people after the selectmen’s prior meeting who were concerned that public comments at the meeting had been abolished. In that meeting, the selectmen debated allowing residents’ comments on each article.

“We certainly value people’s opinion at any time during the meeting,” Fitts said.

The municipal bylaws specify public input, but do not state how it shall be conducted. During Monday’s meeting, Fitts asked for comments from the audience at several points. Glover suggested that residents’ comments could be heard prior to the articles, so as not to interrupt the board’s discussion.

The board also discussed the possibility of removing three dead maple trees on the town’s right of way in front of 52 Lincoln St. Jackson said Paris has budgeted only $2,000 for tree removal, and that the estimate given to the property owner for removal of the trees was $6,000. She said the town was responsible for any damage the trees might cause. The project will be put to bid.

The next selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Paris Town Office.

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