Little Quittacas Solar Discussion Continues

The Rochester Planning Board appears to be on course to reverse a previous vote to release two units and instead release four units of the Pines at Hathaway Pond in return for $20,000 cash surety deposit with the town treasurer.

The Board previously voted to release two of the units while holding another two units. But after hearing from representatives from the Pines at the regular meeting on Tuesday, November 13, Chairman Arnold Johnson extended the review on this matter until the Board’s next meeting on November 27.

There were not enough members present for a voting quorum on November 13. Other Board members in attendance were Robert Francis, Michael Murphy, Ben Bailey and Gary Florindo. The Town Planner could not attend due to a personal matter.

“There were four units being held by the Planning Board, and the request originally came in to potentially release all four units in exchange for some type of surety. The Board talked it over, and we sent our review engineer out there to look at the status of the project, and we came up with a $20,000 figure to hold the four units,” Chairman Johnson said. “At that time … it was said to keep two units and sell two units.”

But representatives from the Pines stated that withholding release of all four units was holding up the sale. Johnson responded, “The covenant releasing the two would need to come back and then we would have to submit one with all four.” All parties then agreed to move forward with a $20,000 figure and a 25 percent contingency to release all four units.

“Our engineer would still go back in there when it’s done to review everything and make sure everything is still functioning according to the plan,” Johnson said. “Then [the Board] would go in there, and we would decide if everything was done appropriately.”

There was also continued discussion on the site plan review for the proposed ground-mounted solar panel array for the Little Quittacas Pond region of town off North Avenue — referred to as the Little Quittacas Solar Project.

The property on which the proposed array would be located is owned by the City of New Bedford. The array would draw solar power that would be routed to the power grid in order to offset the electricity used by New Bedford’s Water Department.

Last month, at the project’s technical review meeting, the plans came under fire because the construction of a drainage swale would extend into the public roadway. TRC Engineering agreed to redesign that part of the plan.

The Board felt these concerns have been adequately addressed. “The layout of the road and the distances required were not laid out properly and now they have been,” Bailey said.

Florindo asked some Rochester residents attending the Board meeting if they are happy with the current plans, and all those attending were happy with a current plan for berm with vegetarian.

After discussion on this matter, Chairman Johnson said the Board would “come back on [November] 27th and really move it forward.” The Board approved a motion to further review the matter at that time.

“We would like to see a construction schedule to incorporate into our decision, and also some type of decommissioning bond would have to be in place where the town would have to be in approval,” Johnson said.

When construction is complete and power is produced, ConEdison Solutions is said to be the owner of the array of New Bedford’s property, and it was made clear that they will be responsible to maintain it and also come up with decommissioning bond.

In other matters, a Special Permit was signed for Porter Bog, Hiller Road and for Assessor’ Map 11, Lots 2A and 2B.

The Rochester Planning Board will meet next at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, November 27 at Rochester Town Hall.

By Scott Giordano

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