New Solar Project Establishing Wetlands Lines

The next in a growing line of solar projects to enter Rochester is in the initial stages of development with the delineation of the 9,950-foot wetlands border at 0 Walnut Plain Road.

The Rochester Conservation Commission on May 15 reviewed a section of that line as part of the Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area delineation filing, but much of that line remains uninspected. The terrain features thick vegetation and briars and is not easily accessible, according to wetlands scientist Nicole Hayes of Goddard Consulting on behalf of developer Pedro Rodriguez of Solar MA Project Management, LLC of New Milford, Connecticut.

Hayes described how she determined the wetlands line through the identification of at least 50% wetland indicator species present, which are key indicators of a wetlands border. But the fact that Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon has not walked the entire wetlands line pertaining to the actual project area is a dilemma for the commission, Hayes acknowledged before pointing out that the areas still outstanding are outside the scope of the project.

“I feel it would be difficult for us to confirm the wetland of a parcel with a large gap in it like that,” said commission member Daniel Gagne.

“I have a major level of discomfort about it,” Farinon stated.

Farinon has been working with Hayes to develop the plan the commission viewed that night, but the incomplete areas still need work.

“People change, commissions change, time goes by and all of a sudden someone picks up this plan five years, ten years later and it’s like, whoa, it doesn’t show wetlands on it,” said Farinon. Hayes is correct that the unconfirmed line is outside the project area, Farinon said, “But that’s kind of an obscure thing.… We really want it to be as clear as possible on the plan.”

Commission members Laurene Gerrior and Chris Gerrior recused themselves from the discussion.

The hearing was continued until June 19 to allow Farinon time to further work with Hayes to establish the wetlands line.

In other business, the commission accepted a conservation restriction for the 83 acres the town will acquire from the Estabrook family in June. The land will be for public recreational use, which will be effectuated with the assistance of the Buzzards Bay Coalition.

“This is a great partnership and this is going to be a fantastic addition to the Land Trust holdings and the town’s available public access properties,” said Allen Decker, director of land protection for the Buzzards Bay Coalition.

Also during the meeting, Mike Spieldenner received a Certificate of Compliance for the paving of 650 linear feet of existing roadway and a drainage swale for water runoff in the 100-foot buffer zone at 1 Happy Tails Lane, owned by Charlotte and James Spieldenner.

The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for June 5at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

Rochester Conservation Commission

By Jean Perry


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