PARIS — Selectmen will begin work on amending the town’s guiding document in order to strike a controversial zoning requirement that doubles the minimum lot size.

On Tuesday, selectmen voted 4-1 to begin the process for changing Paris” Comprehensive Plan, which guides future land use, and created an amendment committee to oversee the process.

The vote enables selectmen to address concerns over a proposed zoning ordinance which would create five distinct districts within the town, each with different rules on the types of businesses and construction which can occur there.

Specifically, selectmen will look to rewrite a clause in the comprehensive plan that requires lot sizes in rural areas to be a minimum of two acres.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Bob Kirchherr, the one dissenting vote, said voters should have the first say prior to making any changes.

“I don’t know whether it will pass or not, but I think the citizens of the town deserve the right to vote on this ordiance without the changes being that are being suggested,” Kirchherr said.


The town’s zoning ordinance rules are driven by the comprehensive plan, requiring selectmen to first amend the comprehensive plan before making the changes to the zoning ordinance. Town Manager Amy Bernard estimated the process may take a year.

The minimum lot sizes have proven controversial to some landowners who feel imposing restrictions on development will hurt businesses.

Others see the requirement as essential to maintaining the town’s rural, rustic nature, and say the requirements are not intrusive.

Three years ago, a Land Use Ordinance Committee was formed to draft a proposal of the ordinance. After completing its work in early 2013, selectmen passed a draft of the ordinance in April.

The draft was revised by the town attorney and a cons ultant from the Androscoggin Valley Council Of Governments, who submitted it to selectmen in October.

In February, Paris held a two- and a half-hour public hearing, moderated by selectmen and former members of the Land Use Committee, at which residents voiced a mixed response to the proposed rules.


According to selectman Ryan Lorrain, the town would be amiss not to heed residents” feedback.

“I’d rather do it right than Obamacare this thing through the Town of Paris,” Lorrain said.

Several residents in attendance supported leaving the ordinance as it stands, and said the decision should left up to voters to approve or reject it.

Jaclynn Lynch said it was “a shame” to waste time and effort spent to draft the ordinance.

“Now you’ve decided that, because some of you don’t like the ordinance, you’re going to just put it aside, go back, and redo the Comprehensive Plan,” Lynch said.

Cynthia Burmeister said the proposed law was “a prevention of future problems.’

Kathy Richardson noted, “Land-use management can be a powerful tool to help move the town forward.’

Still, other residents suggested forgoing the zoning regulations altogether.

“I don’t think we should take away the right of a private landowner to sell one acre lots. It’s their property,” Mike Risica said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: