More Rochester residents may soon find their newest neighbors may be solar panels over the coming months.
Town Planner Steve Starrett said on April 10 that there have been seven new large-scale solar farm inquiries made to his office, with at least three of them expected to file for Site Plan Review within the next couple of months.
Two of those proposed solar farm projects come from two developers currently permitted for solar projects in Rochester: Borrego Solar Systems and Clean Energy Collective.
Rochester already has six permitted large-scale solar farm projects either built or under construction.
During a follow-up, Starrett was only allowed to give minimal information about the proposed solar projects, omitting specific property sites for the time being until official property rights have been granted.
Starrett commented that with the seven new inquiries, he has officially had to upgrade to a larger binder in order to fit in enough tabs to keep the potential solar projects organized.
Rochester Planning Board Chairman Arnie Johnson commented that several amendments to the Town’s solar bylaw have been drafted, and these amendments will be presented during a public hearing coming up before a vote at the Annual Town Meeting on May 21. One proposed amendment includes a 300-foot buffer from any public way, which is 300 feet farther than the current zero-foot buffer in place now.
The Wanderer will report further on solar developments as information becomes available.
Also during the meeting, Johnson mentioned he had received a complaint from Wellspring Farm abutter Cathy Mendoza on Hiller Road, with a photo of a bus parked on the road, not only in violation of the terms of the board’s decision, but also the town’s ordinance against on-street parking.
“I did get in touch with [Police Chief Paul Magee] and asked if he would send a cruiser by … in the timeframe the van was there,” said Johnson. “We’re going to continue to monitor the situation.”
Johnson said he received another complaint that day from Mendoza, this one about a client making what Mendoza considered excessive noise. Johnson said he referred this matter to town counsel and the Zoning Board of Appeals to address.
In response, board member Gary Florindo stated, “To go and invent the perfect world – that’s not gonna happen because there’s always gonna be something that bothers someone.”
In other matters, the board held an informal discussion with Repurpose Properties, LLC, the developer of a proposed 55+ housing development in the undeveloped property beside Plumb Corner on Rounseville Road. There are 44 units planned for the new neighborhood, designed after The Pines project in town with the board’s decision kept in mind.
Some issues with stormwater still exist, and details surrounding proposed cul-de-sacs and the project will require Conservation Commission approval, but the project has evolved since the developer’s first encounter with the Planning Board last year.
“Well, this certainly looks a lot better than what you initially came to us with,” said Johnson.
Repurpose Properties will now submit its application and move forward with the Site Plan Review process over the coming weeks.
In other news, the board gave its final Site Plan Review approval for Clean Energy Collective’s large-scale solar farm slated for 248 Mattapoisett Road.
The next meeting of the Rochester Planning Board is scheduled for April 24 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Council on Aging on Dexter Lane.
Rochester Planning Board
By Jean Perry