Lyme Ordinance Ignores Historical Development Patterns

Overview: When Lyme was originally settled, residents created lots that are far smaller than the current ordinance allows. The ordinance (passed in 1989) ignored those historical settlement patterns and de facto legislated that it be much harder to develop housing in Lyme. Today, over a third of parcels across town are non-conforming (that is, smaller than the currently-allowed minimum). 


  • In the Lyme Common District and Lyme Center District, the minimum lot size is 1 acre. However, Lyme’s historical development pattern resulted in 42% (59 of 139) of the parcels in those districts being less than 1 acre.
  • In the Rural District on a state road (Route 10, Dartmouth College Highway, North and East Thetford Roads, Dorchester Road), the minimum lot size is 3 acres. The historical pattern is that 33% (53 of 159) parcels are less than the minimum.
  • In the remainder of the Rural District, the minimum lot size is 5 acres. Traditional development resulted in 33.8% (185 of 547) parcels that are non-conforming.

What change to the “minimum lot size” would it take to make 90% of the lots conforming? That is, how could we change the ordinance so that 90% of the lots conform to the rules?

  • Lyme Common/Lyme Center – 0.35 acres results in 10.8% non-conforming
  • Rural-State Road – 0.9 acres – only 10.1% nonconforming
  • Rural-Town Road – 0.95 acres – only 10.4% nonconforming
  • East Lyme – 0.65 acres – only 11.8% nonconforming
  • Mountain/Forest – 20 acres – only 10.8% nonconforming
  • Commercial and Skiway – no change – all are conforming

Summary: A change to the Minimum Lot Size of 1/3 acre in-town, 1 acre in the Rural and East Lyme districts, and 20 acres in the Mountain/Forest district would match the historical practice of Lyme.

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