Jeremy Purington has spent weeks knocking on doors in Richmond to collect signatures for his citizen’s petition.

And on Wednesday, the effort paid off for the developer.

The Richmond Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 during a special meeting to put before voters a series of amendments to the town’s Land Use Ordinance that had been approved by the Planning Board in October 2019 — the same changes they have declined to put before voters until now.

In fact, by a 4-1 vote in May, the board declined to put the measure on the July Town Meeting warrant, and at the end of June it voted to send the matter back to the Planning Board for review.

While the board discussed the possibility of putting off the vote until the June Town Meeting when ordinance changes are traditionally proposed, they opted to set the vote for November.

“The fact of the matter is, it’s in front of us right now,” said Robert Bodge Jr., chairman of the Board of Selectmen.


Town Manager Adam Garland said the petition, which was submitted with more than 200 signatures, had more than met the threshold of 164 signatures needed.

Once the signatures have been verified, he said, state law requires that the matter be put before voters in one of two ways.

Either the items defined in the petition are included in the next warrant article to go before voters or it goes before voters within 60 days.

“I think we can all agree in this room that trying to do a special town meeting before November makes no sense,” he said.

The next option is to put it before voters at the general election, he said.

“This is a citizen’s petition with more than 180 signatures,” he said. “It’s important to your constituents and it’s important to the town. We have the opportunity to address this on Nov. 3.”


“I’m very happy they did the right thing,” Purington said Wednesday following the meeting.

The changes spelled out in the petition would clarify some requirements for developing subdivisions in Richmond’s agricultural zone.

Richmond’s Land Use Ordinance now requires any subdivision in the town’s agricultural area to be cluster development, with houses grouped together to maximize and preserve open space.

Developers are also required to provide a single source of water and sewage disposal for the development, meaning that one well and one septic system would serve the whole development.

Purington, owner of Shoreline Properties and Purington Construction, brought a proposal for a 14-home subdivision on about 35 acres in the western part of town to the Planning Board in 2019.

In June 2019, the Planning Board scheduled a walk-through of the property off U.S. Route 201, which is also known as Brunswick Road.


At that time, neighbors objected, saying that number of houses would affect the groundwater and dry up their wells and wetlands.

Purington had requested waivers from the Planning Board; among them was a waiver from the requirement to provide a single well and septic.

Initially, the Planning Board granted the waivers, but subsequently learned that under state law it could not and reversed its decision.

At that time, the Planning Board undertook a review of the ordinance.

In a meeting with the Board of Selectmen at the end of June, Linda Doran, who was wrapping her term on the Planning Board as chairwoman, reviewed the proposed changes that her board had unanimously approved in October 2019.

“Some of the requirements of cluster development didn’t make sense for a single-family home developments,” Doran said, citing the satellite water and sewer systems.


The board had determined it was not in the town’s interest to require them.

“The big thing is, there is no ownership,” she said. “These things fail all the time.”

That requirement might make sense for a planned unit development with multi-family housing like an apartment complex where individual units would not be able to have their own well and septic, but not for single-family homes on lots of about an acre.

The language was changed so that the Planning Board could require satellite water and septic systems if they were needed, but it would no longer be required.

She said she thought that when the ordinance was first drafted, requirements for cluster developments and planned unit developments had been mistakenly lumped together.

“Would it surprise you to know it wasn’t a mistake?” O’Neill LaPlante, then the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said.


LaPlante said at the time the ordinance was drafted, it was done to preserve agricultural land and discourage development.

“They knew what they were doing,” he said.

Other members of the board said they wanted to preserve Richmond’s rural character and they didn’t want to see a lot of development take place.

Selectman Randy Bodge said several of his high school classmates remained in Richmond because they wanted small-town life.

“The population has doubled since then, so it’s not like Richmond isn’t growing, but you don’t have to promote over-expansion,” he said.

Doran said Purington had not asked for the changes, nor had the board made all the changes that Purington had requested in the waivers he submitted.


“We had already scheduled time to review the ordinance, but this issue came to the top of review,” she said.

Purington said Wednesday that he did not take part in the Planning Board’s work to review the ordinance.

Between now and Nov. 3, three public hearings on the matter are required to be held, one by the Planning Board, and one by the Board of Selectmen. The third public hearing will be held on the referendum vote, and could be scheduled to take place in conjunction with the Board of Selectmen’s public hearing.

Garland said those meetings are expected to be scheduled soon.

But because the ballot is the result of a citizen’s petition, no changes can be made to the revised language as a result of public input, he said.

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