WILTON — Selectmen have sold the former primary school building in town to a Wilton man who plans to make biodiesel fuel at the site.

Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to accept a $50 offer from Michael Wells to buy the town-owned property at 24 School St. It was the only offer the town received after requesting public bids to buy the vacant building and half-acre parcel.

Wells, 49, hopes to expand the W.S. Wells & Son agriculture operation at the site. The local cannery business is owned by his family and primarily ships fiddleheads across the globe, he said.

There was a primary school at School Street site for many years, according to Barbara Vining, assistant town manager. Mt. Blue Regional School District 9 turned the property over to the town and town officials have been working for several years to find a new use for the site, she said.

The sale Tuesday means the property, which has been owned by the town for at least two years, will begin to generate tax revenues for the town, Vining said. The property’s assessed valuation of $71,000 would translate into $1,036 in annual tax revenues for the town based on the current tax rate.

Wells, who works as a private contractor, is seeking to become more involved in his family’s business, which has been run in Wilton for generations, dating back to the late 1800s, he said Tuesday before the meeting.

His plan to process biodiesel fuel would help his family and other farmers in the area gain access to a less expensive fuel source, he said. There will also be space in the building used for storing farm equipment under his plan.

Wells is seeking to change the zoning at the School Street property to allow for the commercial uses he is proposing, which is a change from the existing residential designation at the site. He plans to apply for the required approval for the zoning change from the town’s planning board, which would review the proposed biodiesel project as part of the application process.

Wells told selectmen that the project does not pose a public health danger, calling his planned biodiesel refining process a safe way to produce alternative fuel from vegetable oil. He said there are chemicals used in the process but safety features prevent threats from emissions and other possible effects on the surrounding area.

Wells lost a race for town office last year to Selectman Scott Taylor. They had been among four candidates vying to fill the two-year term on the board vacated by Irving Faunce.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]


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