PARIS — Town officials have delayed forwarding to voters a controversial measure to change minimum lot sizes after failing to reach consensus on how large they should be. 

After lengthy debate on the issue Monday evening, selectmen agreed to delay the move and will seek input from neighboring towns with zoning laws while estimating the number of residents who would be affected by the move. 

The board received a recommendation from the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Committee to adjust the town’s guiding document so future lot sizes in rural parts of town be no smaller than 20,000 square feet with 100 feet of road frontage. 

There has been serious debate stretching back over the past several years whether controversial zoning laws will be implemented and to what extent. 

Resident Jaclynn Lynch depicted the choice was more than government telling land owners what they can do with their property, a point emphasized by proponents, it was a threat to tranquil, quiet neighborhoods. 

Though the measure is far from being enforceable, it caused a split among board members, with Selectmen Samuel Elliot and Chairman Ryan Lorrain in favor, and Selectmen Janet Jamison and Robert Wessels opposed.


Zoning laws must agree with the town’s comprehensive plan. Paris enacted its plan in 2007. Among its list of recommendations, it suggests creating five unique districts in town, each with different restrictions on land use. Under it, lots in rural parts of town are to be a minimum of two acres, with 200 feet of road frontage. 

That clause met backlash at a meeting to debate the topic in February, when residents told selectmen that a two-acre minimum was too large. 

In the months after, selectmen began the process to amend the comprehensive plan, creating the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Committee and delegating to it the task of recommending something less than two acres. 

Shortly after the five-member committee gave its recommendation that lot sizes should be no greater than the state minimum

The debate since has struck a philosophical chord. Residents favoring a one-acre minimum stress that anything less would detract from the rural, rustic aesthetic of the community. Committee members, in contrast, have said that government shouldn’t tell people what to do with their land, and practically it’s unlikely for a developer to divide a parcel into anything as small as half an acre. 

At a public hearing, some 20 residents told the committee they instead supported one-acre lots. With pressure from residents, members agreed to readdress the issue at their next meeting, but eventually voted to uphold it on Nov. 19, explaining that those residents who spoke out did not represent the entire town. 


They then tendered their recommendation to selectmen. 

Wessels favored one-acre lot sizes as a compromise between the views of residents, arguing it would be “crazy” to ignore the voice of the voters.”

Jamison agreed, reiterating concerns from a consultant from the Maine Municipal Association that the potential scenario of septic systems and wells plumbed into a series of half-acre lots poised a threat to water quality. 

“I believe they want to chop it up so they can make the most amount of money on the tiniest amounts of land … [and hope that] they don’t poison their neighbors,” Jamison said.  

Elliot struck an altogether different note, offering no opinion on the size, but disparaging the process. He said it made no sense to amend the comprehensive plan before streamlining local ordinances. 

Lorrain disagreed with Wessels’ notion that approving the recommendation contradicted the will of residents, noting the committee that gave it is exactly that.

He also said the town has had no problems with its land policies.

“It’s a small lot there’s no doubt … I wouldn’t think, as everyone’s pointed out, people aren’t coming in and chopping up land,” Lorrain said.  

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