Voters approve Milford solar farm

MILFORD – Voters on Tuesday gave selectmen the authority to negotiate a multi-year lease with a company that wants to build a solar farm on 120 acres of the Brox Industries property.

The election also saw Michael Hannon and write-in candidate Holleigh Tlapa defeat longtime school board incumbents Len Mannino and Bob Willette and Chris Labonte unseat selectmen’s Chairman Kevin Federico.

Every town and school ballot question was approved, including the second phase of Osgood Pond restoration, which the selectmen had opposed.

The solar farm plan from Granite Apollo, of Manchester, would cover with solar panels about 70 percent of the 120 acres on both sides of Route 101 for at least 25 years. Town officials have been eager to sell or lease the property ever since it was purchased from Brox Industries almost 20 years ago. A majority of the budget committee had opposed the plan, while the selectmen were unanimously in favor.

Two school district collective bargaining agreements, with teachers and with custodians, passed. The school board had promised the new teachers’ contract would eventually result in big cost savings because of its retirement provision.

The second phase of Osgood Pond restoration narrowly passed, 1,140 to 937. It had been opposed by three of the five selectmen – the only item on the ballot they opposed. The $350,000 project will cost the town $175,000 because it has a matching grant.

A $85,000 article to study a Milford emergency dispatch center passed easily. Voters at the town deliberative session amended the article down from $2.5 million to build a new Milford-only system.

The town operating budget of $14.7 million passed easily and so did the school district’s $42 million budget.

Chris Labonte defeated Selectman Kevin Federico by a vote of 958-591, with Nate Carmen trailing with 326 votes.

Michael Hannon was the big vote-getter in the school board race, with 1,153. Write-in candidate Holleigh Tlapa had 823, Len Mannino, 811 and Bob Willette, 808.

The only other contest was for cemetery trustee, with Stephen Trombly getting 1,274 votes and Jay Duffy 553.

The $450,000 bond for HVAC replacement for the town hall achieved the needed 60 percent vote and so did bonds for water main improvements and a sewer collection system asset management program.

All zoning questions passed.

There were 37 new registered voters, giving Milford a total of 11,501, with 2,129 voting on Tuesday.

Kathy Cleveland may be reached at 673-3100, or at kcleveland@cabinet.com.