January 9, 2013

Farmington selectmen postpone adoption of downtown development plan

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON -- Selectmen have delayed adopting a downtown development plan draft after continuing concerns from residents about the current version.

The town's contract with the consulting group commissioned to draft the plan has expired, so the board will be asking the town manager Richard Davis to find out what money is available, if any, to spend on more consulting services for the plan, said board chairman Stephan Bunker.

The board Tuesday unanimously moved to not adopt the draft and will schedule another workshop so residents can share input and ask questions about the draft.

Bunker said residents are concerned about a wide variety of aspects of the draft and complaints have not been focused on any one issue.

Several townspeople questioned the draft at a workshop Dec. 20 when consultant John Holden presented the it.

Selectman Andrew Hufnagel, who recently founded the Farmington Business Association, said at the workshop he was concerned the language of the draft gave a nongovernmental organization, the Farmington Downtown Association, too much say in a project that uses government funding. He asked the consulting group to change specific references to the Farmington Downtown Association to general references about all of the different area business associations.

After getting feedback from the workshop, the consulting group revisited the draft and created the version that was presented for approval Tuesday.

The downtown development plan is a list of recommendations commissioned by the town to promote economic development.

Recommendations include infrastructure projects such as a Sandy River pedestrian bridge, downtown public restrooms, a parking structure, new streetlights and improved sidewalks.

Consultants also suggested the town create a tax increment financing district in the downtown to fund the infrastructure projects and hire an event coordinator to direct downtown events.

A timeline for implementing the plan will be developed after the final draft has been adopted by the town.

Kaitlin Schroeder -- 861-9252

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