In a brief remote meeting held on August 4, the Rochester Conservation Commission worked to close out a public hearing for a Notice of Intent filing pertaining to the construction of a canopy solar array that dated back to June.
Sarah Stearns of Beals and Thomas, Inc. represented Hingham-based Hank Ouimet Renewable Energy Development Partners and brought to the commission minor changes that were made to her proposal after her meeting with the Rochester Planning Board. The solar canopy and canal system to be constructed at the Eldredge Bogs off Pierce Street required modifications to the northern portion of the site in order to comply with the necessary 100-foot setback to an abutting property.
“The northern portion of the proposal was too close to the property line,” Stearns told the commission. “We amended the canopy and added a length of canopy in the southern part of the array to make up for the loss in the northern area.”
The amended plans include reorganization of significant areas of solar canopies around the site in order to keep the potential power output of the solar array similar while also adhering to the Planning Board’s requests. The changes leave some areas of the canal completely uncovered by the solar canopies and include extensions to southern canals to make up for the lost panels.
Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon explained that peer-review engineer Henry Nover had reviewed the project and found that the updated plans adequately satisfy all of the town’s requirements. Farinon recommended that the project receive the commission’s approval provided that a meeting is held prior to construction and a wildlife sweep of the area take place before the start of canal work. Following Farinon’s recommendation, the commission voted to issue an Order of Conditions for the project, allowing construction to go forward.
With the commission’s only public hearing closed out, Farinon spoke to the anticipated increase of projects to come in the future and the impact it would have on Nover.
“Henry Nover has been our peer consultant and he typically reviews the engineering portions and stormwater standards for our projects,” Farinon explained. “Henry is semi-retired. He has recommended that we get an additional review engineer on board so that we have another available consultant.”
Farinon suggested that the commission consider potential candidates for the position as well as another wetland scientist who could also be available in the case of a heavy influx of proposed projects. Vice Chairman Daniel Gagne agreed that a review of different professionals and firms would allow the commission to choose the candidate best qualified for the position. The commission agreed to continue the discussion in their next meeting to give ample time for board members to sufficiently review the qualifications of any proposed engineers.
The next Rochester Conservation meeting will be held remotely over the Zoom platform on Tuesday, August 18, at 7:00 pm.
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Matthew Donato