FARMINGTON — A small group of residents raised concerns Monday night about how a planned condominium project on Main Street may redefine development in downtown Farmington, a community known for its quaint, historic character.

They had a list of complaints about the plan to build the project behind the apartments and office space in the existing building at 223 Main St., located where many downtown businesses and the University of Maine at Farmington campus intersect.

Bill Marceau, the property owner, wants to build the condominium to house six rental units for residents ages 55 and above. The project is an attempt to meet a dire need for housing in town for this age group, he said after the public hearing on the Riverview Condominium LLC project at the half-acre lot.

His plan has been submitted to the town’s planning board, which is expected to vote Monday on whether to approve the request at a meeting at the town office at 6 p.m.

Christie James, who owns property next to Marceau, has hired an attorney and engineer to review the project, and she was among the five residents who spoke out against the project during the more than two-hour hearing.

“It changes the character of our town and it’s not what these lots were meant for,” James said.

James lives in the historic house where she also runs Western Maine Osteopathic Healthcare, she said.

Her biggest concern is the effect a condominium project will have on the historic downtown, with many of its buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, she said, making her plea to the planning board members to consider denying the project.

Planning Board Chair Clayton King told James the property is actually not in the village’s historic district, which ends at Academy Street, and has regulations tied to certain historic building factors.

Along with the town’s attorney, King explained that the planning board can only make decisions based on that boundary, despite voters’ past approval of a comprehensive plan seeking to protect the historic character of the entire downtown area and college campus.

The planning board is looking at the project to see if it meets the town’s ordinances, not the comprehensive plan, according to the town attorney, Frank Underkuffler.

Many of the complaints from James, her attorney and other residents were tied to whether the project meets town ordinances, many of which involve setbacks from other properties and traffic and safety issues.

Marceau said there are currently 10 rental units and two office units in the existing building, and his attorney and team of project designers said the plan to build another two-story building on the property meets town ordinances.

Marceau’s team said the project can be adjusted if the planning board finds any problems based on residents complaints.

Some residents asked about parking problems created by the project, but King said the site is in a district that is exempt from any town ordinances tied to parking.

The plan will add six parking spaces for the rental units, which are broken up into four units with two bedrooms each and two units with one bedroom each, according to the designs presented Monday.

James is also worried about safety, traffic and other issues raised by more residents living at the property, she said before the hearing.

James and her attorney said they may appeal the planning board’s decision if the project is approved. The decision will depend on the circumstances of the board’s findings, according to her attorney, David Sanders.

Farmington resident Ralph Granger asked the planning board members to fix some of the parking problems and zoning issues, many arising at similar sites in downtown Farmington.

The citizens are asking the planning board to overcome some of the problems and not use past practices as arguments to condone more of the same issues, Granger said.

David Robinson — 861-9287

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