Should a proposed Latter-day Saints temple be built on an 11-acre parcel at Melrose Drive and Farmington Avenue, , the town will immediately lose the benefit of a substantial amount of taxable land. But because of a planned backage road connecting Melrose Drive to Bridgewater Road, it would also create a new area for potential businesses along the Farmington River.
The temple plan calls for tearing down the old Whitman Restaurant building, 1125 Farmington Ave., which now houses the offices of a few local companies, and for the demolition of five small houses along Route 4. Three of the houses are vacant and most have significant water supply issues, according to Peter Fishman, president of PKT Development, which owns the houses and the land on which the temple would be built.
The proposed temple, at about 25,000 square feet, would be equivalent to the demolished buildings in total square footage, but not in taxes. At an assessed value of $997,790, 1125 Farmington Ave. would have paid the Town of Farmington $21,223. The five houses would have paid $18,304. In the next year, however, 1141 Farmington Ave. will draw less in taxes because the house has already been knocked down in anticipation of a , which would be moved to Bridgewater Road, if the temple is approved.
But if the LDS Church built the temple, it would also build the service road connecting Bridgewater Road to Melrose Drive, said Town Planner Jeffrey Ollendorf. That would allow traffic to come down Brickyard Road, cross at one light and travel to the temple on the service road. All curb cuts, or driveway openings, on Route 4 between the two roads would be eliminated, cutting down on traffic in the area, too, Fishman said.
While the service road would allow LDS members from all over Rhode Island and Connecticut to access the temple, it would also open up an expanse of developable, riverfront property, Ollendorf said.
About 50 acres of the riverfront property east of Bridgewater Road is owned by an LLC called Farmington River Development, known as Connecticut Stand and Stone. The area was formerly used as a stone quarry but in the past few years has been leveled and prepared for development, Ollendorf said.
Though the area is not wet, it would be regulated by the town's Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Agency because of its proximity to the river.