Shady Updates for Some Solar Farms

            The Rochester Planning Board finished quickly with its business on the June 11 agenda with the continuation of two public hearings and the closing of one uncomplicated application, leaving plenty of time for some solar project updates needing attention.

            After giving Town Planner Steve Starrett some flak for vouchers seeking reimbursement for an over $200 phone charger and $40 in mileage reimbursement, the board heard Starrett’s update on some solar projects in town that have seen sunnier days.

            It was all in good fun until Johnson referred to Starrett as the “current town planner,” which Starrett and the board laughed off.

            The contractors of the Mendell Road solar farm have left the site, Starrett said, “But they’re not finished yet.”

            Borrego Solar System employee Steve Long assured Starrett that he would come to the site personally to make sure the remaining finishing touches to the landscape are completed. There is still some seeding to be done, but the landscaping is coming along, said Starrett.

            Another issue at the site is the responsibility of Eversource, Starrett stated. The 80-foot apron at the curb has been changed to a straight drive, but the work must wait for Eversource to be completed.

            “We’re waiting for Eversource,“ said Starrett. “We don’t have any control over it.”

            Starrett said Borrego is looking into a possible third solar project in Rochester on Walnut Plain Road. A possible project on Rounseville Road has been held up, Starrett said.

            “We will see the new project on Walnut Plain before we even see that,” said Starrett. “That one may not even happen.”

            Over at the solar farm on Snipatuit Road owned by IGS, formerly owned by Melink, some shrubs that are part of the landscape plan have died from an apparent disease, Starrett said.

            “So they’ll have to deal with that,” said Starrett.

            At the solar farm on 268 Mattapoisett Road, the grass isn’t any greener.

            “Apparently, their new maintenance people went in and sprayed Roundup (herbicide) on … every single row of panels and within two or three days killed everything and killed the soil,” said Starrett. “It’s a huge error.”

            The board was concerned since the use of chemicals and herbicides is prohibited in the written decision.

            Planning Board Chairman Arnie Johnson said he attended a site visit and said, “We gave them ten days to remediate and put grass in … or we’re gonna reopen the hearing and possibly revoke their permit.”

            Starrett said the multi-acre site would have to be scraped and hydro-seeded and completely re-done.

            “Every row in the entire project,” he said. “It was looking good: it’s too bad.”

            In other business, the board closed the public hearing for a special permit for a back lot filed by Mark and Susan Trahan of 243 Mattapoisett Road.

            “I think it looks pretty straightforward,” Johnson said.

            Town counsel will prepare a draft decision for the board to consider at the next meeting.

            The public hearing for the Site Plan Review for Sophia Darras care of Patricia McArdle, Rounseville Road, was continued until June 11 at the applicant’s request.

            The public hearing for REpurpose Properties, LLC was continued until June 11 as well, as this and the prior application is running in tandem. REpurpose is seeking to construct an age-restricted residential development in the vacant land beside Plumb Corner.

            The next meeting of the Rochester Planning Board is scheduled for June 25 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

Rochester Planning Board

By Jean Perry

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