PARIS – Selectmen were on the defensive Monday night as some residents accused leaders of not showing enough concern for land owners.

The main source of contention was the town’s subdivision ordinance. Resident Troy Ripley said the subdivision ordinance committee is made up of local government officials and does not adequately incorporate input from the town’s residents. He also said the ordinance does not sufficiently cover issues such as affordable housing.

“I would ask that the board put the brakes on this thing,” Ripley said.

Board Chairwoman Barbara Payne said that the committee does have three members on the board who are residents.

Two of the committee members do not reside in Paris, including Town Manager Sharon Jackson. Jackson grew terse when accused of not caring as much about the land issues in Paris.

“I know what value land has to landowners,” she said. Jackson said she owns three parcels of land with her husband, and said she understands the issues that go with it.

Glen Young, a farmer in Paris, expressed concern that expensive homes would make it difficult for him to subdivide his land and provide affordable lots for his children.

“You’re driving our kids out of this town,” Young said.

Residents also protested that they did not feel included in discussions on the subdivision ordinance, saying such discussions did not allow members of the public to contribute.

Jackson said the changes to the ordinance were simply to clarify its language. The ordinance, together with the town’s comprehensive plan, will be put before voters at either the town meeting or in a referendum at the polls. Selectmen will decide which path to take on May 23.

“Nobody has closed anybody,” Jackson said. “We do listen to what you have to say.”

However, Selectman William Merrill agreed with the public, saying that the hearings took place at times when residents would most likely be at work. He concurred with the public interpretation of the hearings.

“If my information is correct,” he said, “they can just sit there and listen.”

Franca A. Ainsworth, a member of both the Planning Board and Comprehensive Plan Committee, said the issues were addressed in the write-up of the comprehensive plan, which is available at the town office.

Comments from residents were moved up on the agenda to allow for a presentation that drew a large number of volunteer firefighters. Chief Brad Frost and the Paris Fire Department were presented with the Safety & Health Award for Public Employers by Jane Gilbert and Jim Peabody of the Maine Department of Labor.

“You have a Fire Department you can be very proud of,” Gilbert said. She said few volunteer fire departments get the award, which recognized the quality of the fire station and the department’s training.

Frost accepted the award with a few words of thanks to the volunteers, the selectmen, and the residents.

Selectmen also accepted the resignation of Debbie Decato from the budget committee, though Selectman Raymond Glover added that it was “with thanks and appreciation for her service.”

Selectmen will hold their next meeting at 7 p.m. April 23 at the town office.

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