PARIS – A large group of residents gathered at the selectmen’s Monday night meeting to question and protest the board’s recent decision to take a property owner to court for refusing to pave the road to his subdivision.

But first, Town Manager Sharon Jackson cleared up confusion about whether the selectmen are taking the Board of Appeals to court, or property owner Chris Stearns.

Jackson said although it was the Board of Appeals who gave Stearns permission to keep his 650-foot road dirt, selectmen and code enforcement officer filed a civil complaint against Stearns.

“That is the legal format it has to be written in,” Jackson said about the complaint, which she said cost the town $120 to file.

The town has a $10,000 legal account to pay for this, Jackson said. She predicted it would cost less than $1,000 in all.

The conflict arose partly because Jackson, who became town manager in Jan. 3, 2005, has made a point of more rigidly adhering to subdivision and development ordinances.

“We’re trying to be more formal so taxpayers don’t pick up costs that subdivision owners should have assumed,” Jackson said.

The law that officials are trying to enforce is one requiring all new subdivision roads to be paved.

The road connects Stearns’ three-acre parcel to Mason Drive, which connects to Kilgore Road, which connects to Oxford Street.

Mason Drive and Kilgore Road are both private roads, and both are unpaved.

Stearns said he plans to build two houses on the property. One is already completed.

When the Board of Appeals voted to grant Stearns a variance in late August after Stearns appealed the Planning Board’s decision on the matter, appeals board Chairman Paul Thornfeldt said board members did so out of common sense, even though the town’s subdivision ordinance states all subdivision roads must meet town standards.

At Monday’s meeting, Selectman William Merrill questioned why Stearns had to be the one who had to pay lawyer fees when it was the Board of Appeals that granted him a variance.

He also asked selectmen to reconsider their vote after listening to residents challenge Selectman Gerald Kilgore’s vote on the issue.

Stearns earlier had pointed out that Kilgore, who lives on Kilgore Road, had been interested in purchasing property close to his.

“I would still move that the board revisit that vote,” with Kilgore removing himself from the second vote, Merrill said.

Kilgore, who was too ill to attend Monday’s meeting, said by phone that he did not have a conflict of interest and that he owned no property directly touching Stearns’ land. He said he bought a half-acre between his lot and another property owner’s land.

“It’s got nothing to do with me,” Kilgore said. “It says in the bylaws that it should be paved and they’re trying to get around it.”


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