FARMINGTON — Voters approved the purchase of land next to the Public Works facility and a new firetruck to replace Engine 2 at the special Town Meeting Tuesday, Oct. 25. They removed the article seeking amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and voted not to fund liability insurance coverage costs.

Procedure requires ordinance changes go through a public hearing through the Planning Board and one with the Zoning Board, Selectman Byron Staples said. The hearing with the Zoning Board was held but one with the Planning Board wasn’t, he noted.

The amendments would have added definitions and other details regarding homeless shelters. A hearing scheduled for Oct. 24 was canceled last week.

“My understanding is that there was a missed meeting by the Planning Board and this needs to go before the Planning Board before it comes back to a town meeting at some future date,” resident Dennis O’Neil said. “With all due respect, somebody wasn’t smart enough to figure that out ahead of time.”

Voters appropriated a sum not to exceed $50,000 to purchase 22 acres adjacent to the Public Works facility. It includes an estimated purchase price of $44,000 – $2,000 per acre – plus incidental transactional fees and expenses.

When asked for an explanation by resident Peter Tracy, Public Works Director Philip Hutchins said, “The purpose is to allow a stock yard. Our stock yard is actually our snow dump, is 1.06 acres. This would provide an opportunity to stockpile aggregates, gravel.


“As we increase our road schedule we are going to have to pursue doing everything we can to have aggregates on hand. This is a great opportunity to stockpile.”

The parcel has been select cut, a logger may be brought in to do more, Hutchins said.

“There are 19 sides to this property which is unusual,” Tracy said. “Is there a legal survey of this property. You have seen it? Have you walked the boundaries?”

Hutchins answered yes to the three questions. “We could approach the Planning Board at some point to discuss setbacks, critical buffers,” he noted. “We have to maintain a buffer.”

Half the property crossed Cascade Brook, the back half is probably unmanageable for Public Works use but could be used for forest management or recreation, Tracy said. He suggested hiring a forester to remark the timber and develop a forest management plan before hiring a logger. It only has about 200 feet of road frontage, he noted.

The property has recently been subdivided, there is a more recent survey, Hutchins said.


“My recommendation with only 200 feet road frontage is we do not pay $2,000 per acre,” Tracy said. “It seems an exorbitant price for 22 acres, we can’t use the back portion.”

“The property being immediately adjacent to Public Works provides a significant advantage for future storage of equipment and materials,” Town Manager Christian Waller said. “It is going to allow the town to be able to purchase aggregate materials in bulk and receive volume pricing.”

The owner has agreed to put in a second entrance, Waller believes. “I think it is a great opportunity for the town,” he noted. “In the future as things grow and develop in the town we won’t have the opportunity most likely to have property immediately abutting the Public Works facility.” The town has spent a significant amount building the garage and making other improvements, he noted.

“I think this is a unique opportunity and $2,000 per acre is a fair asking price, especially in today’s market,” Waller added.

Voters also approved spending up to $850,000 from the unassigned fund balance to purchase a firetruck to replace Engine 2. The cost of the truck would increase 6% or about $51,000 if the order isn’t placed in October.

“We are in a unique opportunity to pay for this in full from the unassigned fund balance,” Selectman Stephan Bunker said. It will allow the town to take advantage of the $30,000 discount – for payment in full when ordered – and avoid interest, he noted.


“This is a wise investment,” Bunker said. “Do it now because the prices are only going to go up. It will be 18-24 months before delivery.”

Selectmen at the Oct. 11 meeting by consensus agreed to fund the purchase from the unassigned fund balance and not use $125,000 from the Fire Department’s reserve account or finance part of it. The town’s fund balance is healthy, has $5.1 million with more than three months in reserve after this [expenditure], Waller said then.

“We are fortunate to be in this position,” Waller said Tuesday. “Every four to six months there is a 6-8% price increase on these apparatus. The time frame to obtain the product is stretching out as well.”

Not funding $40,000 for liability insurance coverage for the ensuing year was approved after it was announced the expense was part of the already approved sewer department budget.

“It was determined through Marc Roy, our CPA for the town the missing amount was coming out of the sewer department budget, so initially on the line item it appeared that we were in a deficit,” Selectman Joshua Bell said. “In the end that missing amount was in the sewer department budget where we had already budgeted for it.”


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