FARMINGTON -- City officials have called a timeout in negotiations with a major developer on several key issues, including how to deal with a rustic barn on the north end of a mixed-use project that currently doesn't meet code for a portion of its use.
City Manager Dave Millheim said he and Councilman Jim Talbot recently met with Richard Haws of the Haws Company to address the barn and other challenges related to a proposed $36 million transit-oriented development.
Millheim said the red barn was simply the latest in what he estimated to be approximately five issues between the city and the developer.
Haws has been a key mover for a project across the highway from Station Park.
The project includes a 324-unit apartment complex currently under construction plus some commercial elements, which should come up for review in the future.
A red barn, at the northern end of a 33-parcel for the project, has been used by developers and builders as a quasi office for the time being. It does not meet existing code for that use, according to city officials.
Haws, who has met with city officials off and on for several years, has been vocal in several public meetings on how the council should deal with development. The advice hasn't always been welcomed.
Millheim said the council has gotten weary over the months with the phone calls and complaints. Still he cautioned that both sides need to let the issues chill, for a short time.
"We're trying to build a positive relationship with Mr. Haws," Millheim said.
Millheim said public posturing on either side will not help both parties as they move forward.
Millheim said the red barn simply became a tipping point
"Trying to get it into compliance and finding a solution was problematic," Millheim said of discussion with Haws.
He suggested forcing compliance was not in the city's best interest.
Haws did not attend a recent work session on the barn issue, but did send a representative, Scott Harwood, who said current use of the barn was temporary.
Councilman Rick Dutson said a big concern was potential safety issues associated with the barn's current use.
Dutson was supportive of the time-out, as long as safety issues are addressed.
City inspector Eric Miller also attended the work session and said final inspection hadn't been done, but he could address potential safety concerns with the structure.
There are several other issues related to the barn and to the development.
City officials talked about whether the barn should be included in a commercial mixed-use zone or be in an office-mixed zone designation.
The barn straddles the line between the different zones, Millheim said.
As part of the development agreement with the city, Haws has agreed to build a trail as part of the project. That agreement calls for a legacy fence adjacent to the building and train tracks in exchange for a $325,000 credit.
City officials think a chain-link fence, estimated to cost an additional $7,500, would be safer.
The question has come up as to who should pick up the additional cost if the more expensive fence pushes the final tally over $325,000.
Talbot said a timeout for both sides should be healthy, but warned it can't be expanded much beyond 90 days.