West Paris Planning Board discusses access permits

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WEST PARIS — Members of the Planning Board Tuesday evening revisited their decision of a month ago to study back lot access for a High Street property owner.

Travis York told the board on April 12 that the state Department of Transportation refused his application for a driveway permit at the Jacobson Subdivision because of insufficient line-of-sight distance at the posted 45-mph speed limit.

The board had promised in April to study the issue.

“It’s hard to tell just how much development there will be,” Code Enforcement Officer Shane Poland said. “The state told Travis (York) that it was a requirement of the Planning Board when they did a subdivision that they have to make sure that the state will permit the driveways, but of course, (York’s) lot isn’t part of the subdivision.”

“It was something that was already there,” board member Steve McCann said. “There’s really nothing we can do about it. We tried to bring it into code” by requiring one of the property owners to provide a common 50-foot right of way to High Street.

York can work with the landowner next to him, Poland said.

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“(York) told everybody he was going to put a dirt bike race track down there, and that didn’t go over too good,” interim Town Manager Wade Rainey said. “I heard that’s why they wouldn’t help him out at all.”

The end of the one-hour meeting was spent working on possible revisions to the land use ordinances, focusing on possibly rewriting the back lot development statute to include language mandating driveway-access permission from the state Department of Transportatoin before a development permit could be issued by the town.

“It’s not the town’s responsibility,” Hill said. “It’s not us saying, ‘We’re requiring this,’ but at the same time, we’re saying that it can be developed for use if these things are met. If I bought the land, and I was smart enough to check the town ordinances, or whatever, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have thought to check about line of sight.”

McCann agreed. “But we’re not deeding rights of way,” he said.

Hill said that new language should be included in the statute stating that there has to be a permitted right of way and a line of sight for there to be right of entry. 

“If we’re put in a section on back lots, dictating when they can be developed and when they can’t, then in my opinion, it’s almost like a false promise,” Hill said. It’s like “saying, ‘Hey, as long as there’s a 50-foot right of way, the town of West Paris doesn’t care if you develop that lot.’ But in order for it to be developed, I would (have it) say that it would also have to meet the state’s requirements for right of entry.”

Any change in the statute would have be approved by voters at next year’s town meeting, according to Rainey.

The board changed its next meeting to June 7 because June 14 is primary day for voters.

No photo.

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