FARMINGTON — The town’s planning board decided Monday to delay its vote on a proposed condominium project on Main Street amid new confusion about whether the property falls within the village’s historic district.

Another meeting was scheduled to debate the discovery that it is now unclear just what rules should be applied to the project.

The board’s decision on this project may redefine how the town looks at a number of buildings and properties in downtown, many of which may now be facing an unclear definition of what district they fall under, according to the town’s attorney, Frank Underkuffler.

The board will meet to discuss the issue, and possibly vote on whether to approve the project, at a meeting Wednesday at the town office at 6 p.m., according to Chairman Clayton King.

The proposed project is seeking to construct a building behind the apartments and office space in the existing building at 223 Main St., located where many downtown Farmington businesses and the University of Maine at Farmington intersect.

The revelation Monday is tied to whether the property, which connects to Front Street, falls within the village’s business historic district.

The historic district has different regulations on the visual appearance of the building and other factors, which ultimately may change how the entire project is viewed when considered for approval, Underkuffler told the board.

Until the meeting, which was when the vote was scheduled, the planning board members and other town officials believed the project site was in the village residential district, said Underkuffler and other board members.

The confusion is tied to whether properties that have frontage on Front Street, which is behind Main Street, should be considered in the historic district, according to Underkuffler.

He said the board will also have to look closely at a number of other legal issues tied to the project, which may be challenged in court by a neighbor if approved.

Bill Marceau, the property owner proposing the condominium project, stormed out of the meeting at one point.

“You don’t know the torment,” he said, referring to the challenges to the project by a neighbor and other residents.

Marceau warned the board about the message this project is sending to the business community.

Marceau wants to build the condominium to house six rental units for residents ages 55 and above. He has said the project is an attempt to meet a dire need for housing in town for this age group.

“I’m trying to do good things for the community,” he said Monday.

Marceau, who is a member of the planning board, has abstained from discussions about the project.

The main opponent to the project is Christie James, who owns property next to Marceau. She has hired an attorney and engineer to review the project, and did research that resulted in the questions Monday about the historic district.

James lives in the historic house, which is next to Marceau’s, where she also runs Western Maine Osteopathic Healthcare, she said.

She said she has an investment in preserving the historic aspects of the downtown, and has concerns about the effect the project will have on that character.

James told the board the project would lower her property value, while also creating safety issues tied to emergency access, traffic and other issues.

“(The historic district) is what makes are town great,” she said.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]


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