Board Approves Solar Array Plan

After months of paperwork and public hearings, the Rochester Planning Board voted in favor of the site plan for the proposed Little Quittacas solar panel array. The array would collect electricity that would be used by the City of New Bedford to offset costs to the city’s water treatment facilities.

At the last Planning Board meeting on December 11, all parties involved were awaiting the final comments of the peer review study conducted by Field Engineering.

“We were awaiting a comment letter back from Field Engineering, which I understand has been submitted to the town. It appears to indicate that Field Engineering concurs with the comments made and in the submissions to the town,” said Sam Moffett of TRC Engineering, the firm charged with creating the array.

The array would be located off North Avenue and would require clearing of trees, minor leveling of the land, and construction of an earthen berm abutting a nearby neighborhood to mask the construction and offer visual protection for the residents.

The Town of Rochester will also require collection of a performance bond for the maintenance of proposed vegetation to be planted along the berm. If the plant life survives beyond two growing seasons, the Town would return the money to the engineers.

The Planning Board voted unanimously in favor of the plan after closing the public hearing.

In other business, the Planning Board held a continued discussion with Tim Higgins regarding the installation of a mail kiosk at the Connet Woods subdivision. Such central delivery areas for mail have been popping up more often in the last few years due to changes in delivery service stemming from the budget issues that have plagued the United States Postal Service.

Higgins brought with him a construction plan for the kiosk.

“We would need about three parking spaces, which would be approximately 600 square feet of pavement. The building would be about five foot by 11 feet,” said Higgins.

The kiosk would be built on a drainage lot as a conservation restriction prohibits development over most of the area.

At their last meeting, Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson was in favor of the proposal, but was not satisfied that the design Higgins presented would provide enough space for parking or safety for pedestrians.

“I don’t think the police chief would be in favor of this particular design, either,” Johnson said. With the current proposal, cars would have to reverse into the traffic flow of Ryder Road.

“We don’t have the option of building another road system for this project. That’s an awful lot of time and an awful lot of money for a mail kiosk,” said Higgins.

Johnson suggested the main access point for the kiosk should be near Box Turtle Drive for ease of vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow.

Board member Ben Bailey said traffic worries were overblown because of the low population density of the area.

“Not everybody is going to get their mail at the same time. There’s only 18 addresses there,” Bailey said.

Higgins said he will continue to work on a more agreeable design for the kiosk and the layout for the surrounding area.

The next meeting of the Rochester Planning Board will be held on Tuesday, January 22 at 7:00 pm at the Town Hall.

By Eric Tripoli

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