On a voice vote that stirred grumbling, the $1.25 million sale of five acres to developer Steve Zemo was approved by a special town meeting Monday night.
A crowd of more than 100 filled all the seats and much of standing room in town hall’s lower level conference, with some people standing in the hall.
People entering had been asked to show identification and then handed green paper ballots. After a discussion of the proposal that was neither lengthy nor heated — but did hear from people both for and against the deal — the moderator elected by the town meeting, Ed Tyrrell, called for a voice vote. It was close. But the ‘ayes’ seemed to have it.
He called for a second voice vote.
“We don’t want to be here for an hour, counting these things,” he said.
The second time, both sides were louder, and the ‘ayes’ seemed to carry the the issue by a somewhat larger — though still not overwhelming — margin.
“The motion passes,” Mr. Tyrrell said.
No one argued publicly that the outcome would have been different, but several people questioned the decision to settle the question on a relatively close voice vote, rather than use the ballots printed up ahead of time and provided to everyone entering.
Mr. Tyrrell didn’t entertain second guessing.
“It’s the moderator’s decision, alone, whether that passes, and the moderator has made his decision,” Mr. Tyrrell said.
After the meeting, he was approached by a few people.
“Everyone had a paper ballot, we were all ready to use them,” said Chris McQuilken of Nod Road.
“That’s outrageous,” said Jenny Cox of West Lane.
“We’re for it,” Mary Morrisroe said. “I think it’s a great idea. But I think we had the paper ballotts, we should have used them.”
Mr. Zemo’s plans for the five acres, which are part of the 45-acre Schlumberger purchase the town made almost two years ago, include a 48-suite hotel, a self-storage facility, and a third building with office space on the ground floor and 11 apartments above. First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the meeting that in addition to the $1.25 million purchase price, the complex would pay $250,000 to $300,000 a year in taxes.