WEST PARIS —  “Right now we can’t even ask a property developer a question and expect an answer … this is not about any particular business, this is about any business that comes to the community, any business that is going to do more than 40% renovations … it is about checks and balances.” said West Paris Planning Board Member Bill Grover.

Grover and fellow planning board members, Chairman Steven McCann, Andelina Henderson, and Jeff Holley, are carefully editing a 19-page site plan review ordinance that will need voter approval at Town Meeting in March.

The site plan review was first proposed at a 2017 Town Meeting. Voters hadn’t had a chance to see it ahead of time so shot it down, said Grover.

Since then the plan has been on a shelf getting dusty, he said.

Hoping to have better awareness this time around, the board planned three public meetings. At the first one in September, 20 townspeople left with a better understanding of the importance of having a site plan, said Grover. The last public meeting will be held on Jan. 9 at town office.

Main Street in West Paris. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

November meeting


At their recent public meeting, planning board members discussed how restrictive they wanted to be with building aesthetics. Select board member, Eli White, in the audience, talked about a site plan hearing he attended in Norway for a car wash being planned.

He said a Norway planning board member asked if they could add a cupola. The company agreed, said White.  The West Paris group decided to leave the wording on their plan as it was written in 2017 with minimal restrictions on aesthetics.

Other particulars were hashed over, too, in the one-hour meeting that got them about halfway through the review of the site plan.

Toward the end, Grover said, “This is all about us and the community… . You are seeing the development coming, with Dollar General. Mallard Mart is gone. We have a larger company that’s gone in there with the Rusty Lantern. They made huge changes there. That is a million dollar company. That only opens the door and entices other companies.

“What as a town do we want to have for review capabilities? Right now they don’t have to come to us for anything. They just have to sign that little ‘intent to build’ and that’s it. We don’t even charge for it. They don’t have to go to a site plan review to discuss any of this … . They have carte blanche to do whatever they want as long as they stay within the criteria of the state.”

Town Manger Joy Dowling said the plan will help them get more access to funding, too. “It’s really important that we do this and having people come in and give feedback is really helpful,” she said.


“We are protecting the town and the citizens,” said board member Steven McCann, “We are the only town on the face of the planet that doesn’t have this. Companies are shocked when they come here and don’t have to do a site plan review.”

Maine’s Land Management recommends all towns have a site plan [review ordinance], said Grover.

“It gives more awareness to everybody in town,” Giving an example of the importance of a site plan, Grover talked about a building he passes regularly. The lights project out, “way too far … I couldn’t even see the stars in the sky if I walked outside.” He says the lights are a distraction for drivers and are not neighborly. A site plan would have insured downcast lighting, he said.

Following the vote in March, the select board, planning board and other town committees will get to work on the next big project: updating the 50-year old comprehensive plan.

“The state recommends a new comprehensive plan every five years. We’re 10 times overdue,” said Grover.

The Planning Board’s next meeting is Jan. 9.

By Jan. 25, the planning board’s final draft is due.

Townspeople will vote to accept or reject the site plan review ordinance at town meeting on March 2.

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