FARMINGTON — Residents overwhelmingly approved a $490,000 renovation of the building that will become the town’s new police station.

After voting Saturday at the Town Meeting to accept the 116 Franklin Ave. building, donated to the town by Franklin Memorial Hospital, residents approved the renovation project in voting from the floor.

The town’s Police Department plans to move into the building later this year. In 2009, residents rejected a more expensive proposal to build a police station.

Some residents and selectmen said the current station in the municipal office is unfit for the town’s growing public safety demands. They described it as a “closet with no windows” designed for five employees, while the department now has 12.

The town will have to issue $490,000 in bonds to pay for the renovation. Interest payments on a 20-year loan are expected to add $263,386 to the total cost. Town Manager Richard Davis said the exact cost to taxpayers will be unclear until contractors bid on the project.

A three-way race for two selectman positions was decided in voting Friday. Jessica Berry, 187 votes, and Dennis Pike, 185 votes, defeated incumbent Nancy Porter, 121 votes. Pike is a former selectman and the current Franklin County sheriff.

Proposals to set local rules for wind-energy projects and medical marijuana clinics were pulled Saturday from the Town Meeting.

Davis said he learned Thursday that the proposals legally had to be reviewed by the Zoning Board before the vote. He said he plans to have them voted on at a town meeting after they are reviewed.

A dispute about the Front Street parking lot drew the most debate on the floor of the meeting, with residents considering proposals to withdraw from or renegotiate the lease for public use of the 25-space lot.

Resident Paul Mills, who was also the meeting moderator, proposed an amendment to ratify the lease, which the lot’s owner, Greg Roux, has disputed. Mills stepped down as moderator during the debate and votes on the proposals.

Residents overwhelmingly voted to ratify the 99-year lease, which is from 1993 and for $1 a year.

Many residents said the lot is vital to downtown. It’s the only overnight parking option for college students and downtown tenants during winter overnight-parking bans.

During a special town meeting last year, residents defeated a proposal to ratify the lease, which requires town voters’ approval. It’s unclear whether Roux will challenge the lease in court. He did not attend the meeting and his attorney addressed the crowd, saying he wanted to negotiate changes to the lease.

Going into the meeting, the town’s proposed budget was $4,458,945, a 1.01 percent increase from last year’s $4,413,560. Davis said that budget wouldn’t change the tax rate, which is $15.95 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The only change made at the meeting was the addition of a $5,050 donation to Safe Voices, which formerly was the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project.

About 150 people attended the meeting, which was held at the Farmington Community Center.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]


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