HALLOWELL — The city clerk has validated a petition that will force the City Council to revisit its decision to save the Hallowell Fire Department and lease space in a yet-to-be-built fire station in Farmingdale.

Stephen Langsdorf, a Hallowell resident who also is the Augusta city attorney, last week submitted a petition with 288 signatures, and City Clerk Diane Polky confirmed Wednesday afternoon that 271 signatures had been validated.

“I am pleased the city has verified the petitions and look forward to the public hearing,” Langsdorf said Thursday via email.

The charter states that a public hearing must be held within 30 days of the date the petition was filed – Feb. 24, said City Manager Nate Rudy. Rudy said he is working with Mayor Mark Walker and the council to schedule the public hearing by March 26. The council then has 30 days to either rescind its vote in support of the Farmingdale plan or put the decision to voters.


Hallowell has been wrestling with whether to keep its fire department and aging fire station for decades, and Walker appointed a committee to examine the city’s options. A study done several years ago determined the current station wasn’t structurally sound enough to support a modern fire department.

The committee submitted its final report to the council on Jan. 26. Three members recommended disbanding the fire department and contracting fire services with Augusta, while two favored the Farmingdale plan. The council came to a unanimous decision to save the department and move its operations to a planned Farmingdale station. Langsdorf, who said he didn’t attend any of the public meetings during the review in part because of his connection to Augusta, went to the council’s February meeting and said he disagreed with the decision and the way the council came to it.


“There were concerns that the decision was made too quickly,” Langsdorf said. “People expected some sort of a public forum or hearing so the council could hear more accurately what the people thought.”

At-large Councilor Lynn Irish disputed Langsdorf’s assertions that the council acted to quickly. She said all the councilors were heavily involved.

“He’s dead wrong saying we made this decision based on one meeting,” Irish said. “There’s no way we made that important decision without public input and without knowing the issues.”

Irish said she voted in favor of the Farmingdale plan because she was concerned that if Hallowell voted to disband its department, it never would be able to bring it back.

“(The petition) is his right, but his opinion isn’t based on what really happened,” she said. “We had been getting update after update after update.”

People have told her they wish they hadn’t signed Langsdorf’s petition, Irish said. She said she appreciates his concern and thinks the people who support the Augusta plan probably found his arguments valid.

Langsdorf said after speaking to hundreds of Hallowell residents, he thinks a compromise that would allow an appropriate level of fire services to remain in Hallowell and to continue to work with firefighters in Augusta as first responders is in the city’s best interest.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

[email protected]