PARIS – A revised subdivision ordinance proposed by 253 petitioners went to its first public hearing Tuesday evening.

The hearing focused on approximately 30 comments made by John Maloney, senior planner with the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments. Maloney was present at the meeting, along with Dana Hanley, legal counsel for the petitioners.

Hanley said the current ordinance is “not conducive to working with people of limited means.”

Hanley said one of the changes to the ordinance is having the Planning Board give applicants a summation of information that is required to approve a permit.

Maloney said the request was “somewhat unique,” but “not unreasonable.”

The revised ordinance would also require an applicant to comply with the summation prior to the on-site inspection, and would allow for a licensed engineer’s report to substitute for an on-site inspection in the event of snow cover or vegetation hiding runoff patterns and other areas.

Hanley said this is also meant to create a “streamlined process.”

Maloney said the requirement could possibly hinder applicants as they seek to meet terms of compliance, and that an engineer’s report could be confusing to Planning Board members.

“Sometimes they don’t know what they need to ask until they’ve been out on site,” he said.

The ordinance also looks to ease fire suppression requirements, which require subdivisions to have hydrants, water storage areas, or sprinkler systems. The revision asks that subdivisions have hydrants connected to a public water supply and adequate access to emergency vehicles if a road is proposed.

Maloney said it is becoming more common for subdivisions to provide water sources for fire suppression.

Hanley said the requirements had led to the loss of some sales because developers could not afford to install the systems.

“I think in this economy the petitioners would like to see the town of Paris be more accommodating to its residents,” he said.

Maloney said that while he feels a proposed new section on cluster development is a good idea, he did not feel it was applicable to the town.

“You don’t achieve much by clustering when you’re working such small lots,” he said.

Hanley said the section was adapted from existing language in the subdivision ordinance of either Woodstock or Buckfield.

Maloney said at the beginning of the meeting that he did not take into consideration local policy decisions when making comments on the ordinance.

The existing subdivision ordinance passed by a 487-468 vote in June 2007. The petitioners submitted a revised document in November and a petition to vote on it in December.

Selectmen voted to send the revised ordinance to a June referendum for a vote. The petitioners criticized the decision, saying they had requested that a special town meeting be held within 60 days of the petition’s submission in hopes of implementing the changes before the spring building season.

The town has scheduled public hearings at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month before the referendum to address questions about the proposed ordinance.


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