UNITY — Two selectmen walked out of Town Meeting on Saturday, and at least one plans to resign immediately, after an article to build a new Town Office was sent back to the drawing board.

Selectmen Jim Kenney and Ron Rudolph left the meeting shortly after voters agreed that a committee should be formed to rethink a proposal to buy a parcel for a new Town Office, an amendment of an article that called for buying the parcel.

That came after they rejected another article to build the Town Office on town-owned land near the fire station.

Kenney, reached by phone later Saturday, said he will submit his letter of resignation Monday. Rudolph said he would stay on the board for 90 days to help new board members transition into office.

Both men have one year left in their terms.

The town warrant had four articles pertaining to the proposed building, but the first two were the most discussed. For nearly two hours, voters debated the need, cost and location for the building.

Voters were given two choices for sites: either build on town-owned property near the fire station for $420,000 or buy a separate parcel for $470,000.

In either case, $150,000 would be paid through surplus dollars and the balance would be paid through a 10-year bond at 2.7 percent interest at $270,000 for the town-owned land or $320,000 for the new land, according to Kenney.

Voters rejected the first choice by a wide margin.

Then, resident David Smith made a motion to amend the second article, which scrapped the original wording and asked the board to form a committee to rethink the proposal.

The amendment passed by a wide margin.

Kenney immediately stood up, grabbed his coat and left the building.

“Good day, goodbye and good luck,” he said on his way out.

Rupolph waited until the meeting adjourned for lunch before making his exit.

“I love this town, but the people don’t see what’s happening,” said the 12-year selectman. “We worked long and hard for six months on this project.”

Kenney, who has served a total of 10 years during two separate incumbencies, said, “The plans were the right plans for the town. Our work was dissed. Six months of work was dissed.”

The Town Office was moved in October to a temporary location inside Unity Elementary School after the terms of a long-standing lease agreement were drastically increased by the new owners of Clifford’s Common — the space that had housed the Town Office since 1996.

During a special town meeting in August, voters rejected the new lease offer, rejected a proposal to hire an attorney to negotiate a new lease agreement and rejected a proposal to rent space at a new location.

During a meeting in February, residents proposed building a new town hall on either the town-owned property at the site of the fire station or buying a separate parcel for the building site.

More than 100 people attended Saturday’s meeting, approving 38 out of 41 articles, including a plan to buy a new firetruck for approximately $290,000.

Voters rejected a proposed moratorium on the sale of consumer fireworks and a proposed land donation.

On Friday, during the town’s only contested election, Clement Blakney bested Stephen Wright, 44-17, for a three-year term on the selectboard.

Within 90 days, Blakney — a newcomer to politics — will be the senior member of the board, a circumstance he is taking in stride.

“It’s been a traumatic afternoon, but we’ll survive,” Blakney said Saturday evening by telephone. “I’ve kind of learned to not get stressed out by things.”

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

Unity

Registered voters: 1,913

Attendance: about 100

2011 tax rate: $11.10 per $1,000 of valuation


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