Planning Board Considers New Solar Array

The beginning of the October 25 edition of the Rochester Planning Board breezed by quickly enough.

The first public hearing, a request from Gary Mills to modify a plan combining two lots into a single lot, was continued until the next meeting. The second, a proposed project from James & Charlotte Spieldenner of 1 Happy Tails Lane to modify a plan to pave an existing gravel roadway, was also delayed due to legal papers that had not yet been completed.

Sorting through a small pile of vouchers and minutes that needed approval, Chairman Arnold Johnson turned to his fellow board members and remarked, “This is going quickly. Don’t you wish our government could move this quickly?”

The board then moved on to the only public hearing of the night left – a special permit request for a large-scale solar array from Clean Energy Collective and property owners Michael and Johnann Forand of 268 Mattapoisett Road.

Evan Watson, a representative of Prime Engineering and Clean Energy Collective, was on hand to walk the Planning Board through the plans. “The solar array would be located on five acres at the back of the property. Wetlands surround three sides of the array. We’d like to mimic a meadow with grass and vegetation – something inviting for smaller animals and for deer and turkeys.” Watson continued, “There will be a wooden stockade fence around the panels, with plantings in front. We’ve actually developed an entire landscape plan to give a variation of plants which are good for screening and inviting to wildlife.”

Property abutter Sue Lacey was in attendance at the meeting and expressed her approval of the project. “I’m very pleased with the project,” she said. “I like the plan for screening. I walk through the area often, and I think the plan will look very natural, and I might even be able to see more wildlife. It’s a well-developed project.”

Watson recapped, “I think this is a good project for a special permit. We’re providing tax revenue without a use of town services, traffic safety won’t be an issue, there won’t be an impact on the natural environment, no farms or forests are disappearing, and we’re providing a cleaner environment.”

Board members Chris Silveira, John DeMaggio and Gary Florindo were all absent for the session, and Johnson advised Watson to wait on discussing more precise dealings such as stormwater runoff until such time as the entire board was present. “Otherwise, we’d have to explain it to them again and we’d end up repeating ourselves.”

Watson agreed, the request was continued until the next meeting, and the current meeting was quickly adjourned.

The next Planning Board meeting will be held at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, November 9 at the Town Hall. Please note that the date is irregular because Tuesday, November 8 is Election Day.

By Andrea Ray


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