LISBON — Town councilors voted Tuesday night to pause zoning changes to two town districts until they hear from residents.

The Planning Board has been working on amendments to the zoning standards in rural open space I and rural open space II districts for the past several months. It is considering two approaches.

One approach requires that a subdivider permanently conserve at least 50% of the parcel being considered for development as open space through an easement, dividing the remaining land into house lots based on a minimum lot size.

The other approach, and the one preferred by the board, creates maximum lot sizes and density restrictions for parcels considered for developments. It is a simpler approach to apply and enforce. The land that remains, once the lot size and density have been met, does not have to be conserved by an easement.

Changes being considered for rural open space I include limiting new building permits for parcels larger than 1 1/2 acres, according to meeting documents. Proposed changes to rural open space II would prevent issuing new residential building permits for parcels larger than 2 acres, according to meeting documents. Both districts would have exemptions for replacing existing residences or for labor housing on commercial farms.

Further proposed changes to rural open space II would eliminate some existing lot standards and the rule prohibiting subdivisions.


The changes stem from a town effort to make residential development in districts fairer and more flexible, according to information in meeting documents. But town officials still want to make sure the town keeps much of its rural nature.

The Planning Board has heard from property owners in those districts who want to develop their land in certain ways but are running into roadblocks because of town ordinances, Planning Board Vice Chairman Nicholas Craig said.

Craig also thinks the changes could improve the housing shortage in town, he said. There are some farms in town that have stopped doing commercial farming and might want to use some of their former farmland for other types of developments, such as dividing it into housing lots.

“I know we have, you know, housing shortages and trying to make it so people can actually live here in Lisbon and yet still retain some of the rural feel of those particular zones,” he said.

All council members who spoke during the discussion preferred holding off on considering more changes before hearing from the public.

At its next meeting, the Planning Board will discuss scheduling a public listening session regarding the changes.


“It’s important, I think we can’t make mistakes here,” Council Chairman Harry Moore Jr. said, “And I think we got to make sure that we do this right.”

In other business, councilors approved using $22,000 from the downtown tax-increment financing fund to have Olver Associates create a parking lot design at Worumbo Mill.

Olver Associates will work with the city to develop a schematic design that includes designing the layout of the site, designing where entrances and exits will be located and deciding where parking lots would be located, Economic and Community Development Director Ross Cunningham said.

Councilors spoke about the disrepair of the parking lot in recent years.

Cunningham wants the parking lot to look nice. “We’re looking for a real showpiece that looks nice to represent our town down there and really welcome people to the community,” he said.

Later in the meeting, councilors approved changes to the town’s charter allowing School Committee member elections to be held on the second Tuesday of June along with the budget validation referendum. The charter dictates that committee members are elected in November during the general election and the budget validation vote be held the second Tuesday of June.

The charter amendment still needs to be approved by residents and it will be placed on the ballot for November’s general election.

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