FARMINGTON — The Planning Board this week challenged a resident’s appeal of a condominium project, setting up a probable legal battle over what kind of development should be allowed on Main Street.

Board members disputed the resident’s claim that the project is violating town ordinances, and they voted 5-0 at a meeting Monday night to contest a series of legal concerns raised in the appeal, according to Steve Kaiser, the town code enforcement officer.

The vote reaffirms the initial approval for the project and would probably have to be challenged in Franklin County Superior Court, since the town’s appeal process has been completed, Kaiser said.

The appeal was filed by Christie James, who is challenging the project seeking to build condominiums behind the existing building at 223 Main St., which houses apartments and office space.

James, who lives next to the property, has been fighting the development plan for months, calling it a threat to the quaint downtown community. Her appeal seeks to overturn the town planning board’s unanimous vote in August to approve the project.

James, who has not returned several calls, plans to take the appeal to court if necessary, according to David Sanders, her attorney.

“It’s been a long, frustrating process for my client, and (the outcome) is not reasonable and it isn’t fair,” he said.

The appeals board upheld certain aspects of the appeal and supported six specific claims that the project violated town ordinances, which resulted in the planning board having to defend its position on the specific regulations.

The legal issues being challenged in the case address everything from driveways and parking lots to public safety and new construction on properties that don’t meet certain town regulations.

Planning board members on Monday defended their rulings that the existing lot and building at 223 Main St. can break certain town regulations because they are grandfathered — in other words, the land was developed before ordinances were written. Many of the legal issues being challenged are tied to this issue.

Clayton King, chairman of the planning board, said Tuesday that he believes the legal challenges are unfounded. The project follows town regulations and has many features that are important to show businesses that Farmington is open to economic growth, he said.

“I think it would send a good message to future developers that we are open to considering new projects,” he said of the project moving forward.

Bill Marceau, the condominium project property owner, did not return messages about the appeal.

Marceau plans to build a six-unit building for residents age 55 and older at an overall cost of about $700,000. The one- and two-bedroom units will sell for $150,000 to $185,000.

He owns Foothills Management Company, which has a number of rental properties in Farmington, and is a partner in another proposed housing project for the elderly, Willow Springs, on Fairbanks Road.

Marceau, who is a member of the Planning Board, recused himself from discussions about the condominium project.

Planning Board member Tom Eastler was absent from Monday’s meeting.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]


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