The brakes are being applied to the University of Southern Maine’s plans to sell the Stone House in Freeport.

The college, facing a financial crisis, wants to sell the John Calvin Stevens-designed mansion, which is located next to Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport, to save annual operating costs and $8.5 million in needed updates.

But the 1985 document that conveyed the house to the university said it’s the foundation running the farm that has the final say, not USM.

“It seemed like they were disregarding that we have a stake in the game,” said Judith W. Parkhill, a member of the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation’s board of directors. “My stance would be that we do have this document, which gives us a right, and maybe USM is not paying attention to that and perhaps is moving too quickly.”

The plan to sell the house, which USM primarily uses to house a master’s program in creative writing, was announced Monday by USM President Theodora Kalikow. She said USM is using the building only 40 days a year, which doesn’t justify annual expenses of up to $110,000 or spending the millions needed update its systems and make it accessible to people with disabilities.

The idea of the sale was first raised this spring as USM was trying to iron out a final budget for 2014-15. USM plans to cut some programs and will lay off faculty and staff members to close a $14 million gap in the budget.

Kelley Wiltbank, a lawyer for the University of Maine System, said the finance committee of the system’s board of trustees will be asked Monday to allow USM to explore selling or transferring the house. He said the committee will be told that the farm foundation board needs to OK any final deal, which would also have to go back to the full system board for its approval.

“They understand that the foundation has to be worked with,” Wiltbank said. “The document going before the committee recognizes the foundation’s role.”

Wiltbank said USM has not identified a possible buyer and that the college doesn’t know if any nonprofit group could take over ownership and the cost of restoration, another possibility that’s been floated.

The farm and house were given to USM in 1985 by the family of Lawrence M.C. Smith, a wealthy Philadelphian. The family bought the mansion and farm as a summer retreat in 1947.

Sallie Smith, one of six siblings who along with their mother agreed to give the property to USM, said an assertion by a USM spokesman this week that the family gave the property to the college without stipulations was wrong. She said the agreement conveying the house to USM said that if the college could no longer use it as a “conference center and retreat,” it would be up to the farm foundation board “to direct the appropriate disposition of the Main House.”

Smith said she isn’t opposed to USM selling the house, but wants the proper procedure followed.

David Herring, executive director of the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation, said he has been talking to USM officials about a possible sale for months, even though the final decision to try to sell the Stone House was disclosed publicly just this week.

“The foundation has said we won’t approve the sale without being involved,” Herring said. USM “is working closely with us and I expect that will continue.”

Herring noted that if the building is sold, the college and foundation would have to come to agreement on whether any proceeds would be shared. He also said the foundation’s prime goal is to make sure the house is preserved and any future use is compatible with both the farm, the neigbhorhood and Freeport.

Smith said the family had made a previous donation of a map collection to USM and, when it came time to donate the house and farm, both were given to USM. But after it became clear that USM was unable to operate the 600-acre farm, a foundation was formed to oversee it.