Complex Projects Inch Closer to Start Dates

            It was back in early spring when the Rochester Planning Board heard for the first time Craig Canning’s plans to bring a solar farm to his Marion Road farmlands. During the August 27 reopening of the public hearing for Canning’s plan, it was clear that things were moving closer to a start date.

            Once again, Sarah Rosenblat of SWEB Development USA stood before the board, notes in hand. She went one-by-one over requests and clarifications requested by the board members during the August 13 hearing. She provided items such as removing “lighting” from the waivers request since no lighting is planned for the site, and presented updated sightlines from the front steps of each of the residences impacted by the installation of solar panels. She said that additional language had been added to narratives for road grading, erosion controls, snow loads, and wind speeds. Rosenblat said that the access road easement would not be sought until the project was permitted.

            The issue of types of vegetation, primarily grasses that would be planted once the arrays have been installed, was discussed after Rosenblat provided photographs of a completed solar array field with two years of meadow growth. 

            Board member Gary Florindo expressed his concern that bare ground could result in silt runoff into Dagget’s Brook.

            “It’s a big area,” Florindo said. He asked for more pictures from sites where grasses have been established. 

            Overall, the board was pleased with the progress being made on providing all the technical details it requires to make a final decision and conditioning of the project.

            Rosenblat said the project is still being reviewed by the Conservation Commission regarding wetlands delineations. She said that there lacked a consensus amongst the commissioners, but was hopeful that at the next meeting that would be worked out. To her surprise, Town Planner Steve Starrett said he had received notification from the Conservation Office that a decision had been made; however, what that decision might be was not discussed.

            The board members planned to visit the site one more time to review fencing and sightlines before September 24 and the hearing was continued until September 10.

            Planning Board Chairman Arnie Johnson noted, during the September 24 meeting, “We should be able to wrap this up.”

            Also inching closer to shovels in the ground was the Special Residential Development planned by REpurpose Properties, LLC for a large tract of land situated along Route 105 next to the Plumb Corner shopping complex.

            Present were all parties with vested interests in the project. Representing property owner Gibbs Bray was Brian Wallace of JC Engineering, Inc.

            Wallace said that at the present time he was working with the contractor to finalize plans and that peer review consultant Ken Motta of Field Engineering had suggested a couple of minor modifications to the planned entrance roadway, suggestions that would decrease waiver requests. Those modifications were slope gradings. He said that new plans of record would be provided in advance of the next meeting, but he wanted to get feedback from the board before presenting them formally.

            Wallace also said that a playground, which had been on the original plans but subsequently removed, was now back in the design. He said that one of the reasons all parties were present on this night was to take time to reach decisions on the proposed playground outside the hearing.

            The hearing was continued until September 24.

            Then it was déjà vu for a Special Permit for a back lot off 243 Mattapoisett Road.

            Coming before the board was Carmelo Nicolosi of Charon Engineering. He said that all abutters had not been notified when the project first came before the Planning Board, thus making the earlier decision null and void. Now, with all abutters having been notified, the project returned for a legal vote.

            Only one abutter had questions regarding the plans for the construction of a single-family home. Jill Bodeau, 229 Mattapoisett Road, wanted reassurance that the proposed driveway planned to run along the boundary line of her property would not negatively impact her view.

            Mark Trahan, the property owner, assured Bodeau that he would erect fencing and leave as many mature trees as possible. The project was approved.

            In other business, Johnson said and he and Starrett had made site visits to the solar project on Mattapoisett Road and found that the site had been stabilized. He said that Starrett would send a letter to the Building Department advising them of completion. Also receiving the thumbs up was replanting and landscaping associated with the Hartley Mill.

            Receiving the thumbs down was the condition of the service road for the IGS Solar project site, formerly owned by Melink. Johnson said that vegetation was “higher than my truck.” He also noted that some fencing is missing. He asked Starrett to invite the property managers to the next meeting.

            The next meeting of the Rochester Planning Board is scheduled for September 10 at 7:00 pm in the Rochester Town Hall meeting room.

Rochester Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

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