FARMINGTON — Members of the Farmington Village Corp. Appeals Board unanimously granted the University of Maine at Farmington’s appeal to build a central heating plant at Quebec and Perkins streets.

Recognizing the potential as a learning environment for students and the environmental good it poses for the community, Appeals Board members agreed that the corporation’s initial decision to not allow the plant was erroneous and voted to grant the appeal Thursday.

The Planning Board approved the project in March but the corporation’s Planning Board voted to not allow construction late in February, based on the plant non-conformance and a change of use for what is now a UMF parking lot in a residential zone. The site is also not within the corporation zone for industrial use.

The zoning plan of the Farmington Village Corp. allows educational use in a residential zone, Kelley Wiltbank, an attorney for UMF, reminded the board.

“Although the location is the issue, we found this space at the corner of Quebec and Perkins streets was the best,” Tom Perkins, project manager, said. Perkins presented the project to the Appeals Board as Farmington Village Corp. trustees and a few residents listened.

The plant will help reduce the school’s carbon footprint because locally produced biomass wood chips would replace most of the 400,000 gallons of oil now used by the university, he said.


There is also an educational benefit to the project. A classroom is planned for a lab where students can study, perhaps daily, components of the biomass system, he said.

The project joins other biomass projects in Farmington, including the Mt. Blue Campus, Mallett School and local churches, and showcases alternate heating options, he said.

With the appeal granted, construction on the plant is expected to start soon, Laurie Gardner, executive director for finance and administration at UMF, said after the hearing.

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