Voters defeat effort to ratify flawed 1993 parking lot lease

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FARMINGTON — The owner of a parking lot who has been leasing it to the town for $1 a year said at a special town meeting Tuesday that the 13-year-old agreement was flawed and inadequate.

The 1993 document, while legally binding, was never ratified by voters as required by law and was only approved by selectmen. Before the small piece of land on Front Street downtown can be sold to the town, Farmington’s legal counsel recommended the lease be ratified after-the-fact at a town meeting, Town Manager Richard Davis told a standing-room only audience.

Owner Greg Roux, however, strongly disagreed. He argued the article should be defeated and it was voted down, 35-to-27.

“There are too many flaws,” he said to a crowd that included many downtown business owners and members of the Farmington Fire Department, where Roux is a longtime member.

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“(The document) leaves too much up to interpretation. … I can’t stress enough (that people should) not ratify this so we can move forward,” Roux said.

He said if the flawed document is ratified, he feared he would somehow lose out although he could not specify how that could occur.

“The town could say, ‘To heck with Mr. Roux. We don’t need to work with him,’” he said.

Davis disagreed. He said ratification added an official sanction to the agreement and needed to be addressed before any sale but it would have no impact on negotiations. Voters will have the final decision on any land purchase.

Voters also approved the town’s application for a state Community Development Block Grant of $50,000 for the Fairbanks School Neighborhood Association’s commercial kitchen project. The funds would be used along with $10,000 provided by the Good Shepherd Food-Bank to design and install a kitchen in the basement of the restored Fairbanks School on Fairbanks Road. The facility would be made available to local farmers, individuals and members of area food pantries to process their crops.

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