FARMINGTON — Planning Board members want to see if an 18-wheeler can negotiate tight street corners before voting on a proposed biomass central heating plant for the University of Maine at Farmington.

Drivers will need to make these turns for 30-ton deliveries of wood chips to the plant, an estimated 11 trips per week during peak-use months of January, February and part of March.

The 400,000 gallons of oil used by UMF per year require 40 to 45 deliveries per week during those months, said Thomas Perkins, project manager from Dirigo Architectural Engineering.

Following a nearly two and a half hour public hearing Monday, the board voted to visit the proposed site at UMF Parking Lot 9 at Quebec and Perkins streets to watch a truck maneuver turns there.

They will meet at 5 p.m. Monday, March 16, at the UMF parking lot and walk the block to the turning area. Members of the public may attend. The board will then go to the Municipal Building to discuss the site review application and vote.

Two potential routes are under consideration: from Route 2 to Front Street to Broadway and Perham for a turn onto Quebec; and Route 2 East to High Street for a turn onto Middle Street and onto Quebec Street.


Armed with a detailed presentation, Perkins told the board that the $11 million project has benefits for the community and the university. These include environmental, financial and educational benefits, he said, answering questions raised at last month’s board meeting.

Wood chips will be purchased locally, boosting the local economy, he said. Carbon emissions will be reduced.

Delivery of chips is expected to drop to about four deliveries per week in April, October, November and December.

The university is willing to work with the timing of deliveries, avoiding making any deliveries during school hours at the nearby W.G. Mallett School or late at night, Perkins said.

The turn from Perham Street onto Quebec Street, according to Perkins’ presentation, shows a truck crossing into the opposite lane of traffic to make the turn, Board Chairman Clayton King said.

Other board members mentioned tractor-trailer attempts to turn from Main Street to Broadway, which require other vehicles to pull over to let them through.


Before voting, the board wanted the truck route worked out and to know the timing of deliveries.

The board needs to know the facts and not rely on “we’ll work it out,” member Lloyd Smith said.

But for Frances Harton, who lives across from the proposed plant, vibrations of truck deliveries, noise and aesthetics of the building were still a concern.

“It’s a quiet neighborhood,” she said. “The plant will change the dynamics of a residential neighborhood.”

abryant@sunmediagroup. net

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