Proposal for solar farm ordinance to get a public hearing Tuesday in Charlestown

Proposal for solar farm ordinance to get a public hearing Tuesday in Charlestown

The Westerly Sun

CHARLESTOWN — A public hearing on an ordinance for major solar farms and a request for disbursement funding for an affordable housing project are on the agenda for Tuesday’s Town Council meeting. The meeting is usually scheduled on the second Monday of the month, but Town Hall will be closed Monday for Victory Day, an annual state holiday that marks the anniversary of the Allies’ victory over Japan in World War II.

The public hearing on a commercial solar farms ordinance, submitted by GroSolar, of White River Junction, Vt., has been on the agenda several times in the last few months. The ordinance was submitted in March to the Planning Commission, whose members requested that the company modify it before submitting the document to the Town Council for a vote.

GroSolar received an extension from the council to make the requested modifications by June, but when June rolled around, it was met with objections from Peter Ruggiero, the town solicitor, and Councilor Steven Williams. Ruggerio noted that the document had been expanded from four pages to seven pages, and Williams said that neither the council nor the public had been given an opportunity to review the proposal in a timely manner. GroSolar’s attorney requested that the revised documents go straight to the council without another review by the Planning Commission, but that request was denied.

Virginia Lee, council president, said Friday that the Planning Commission had reviewed the revised ordinance at its July meeting and has sent a letter to the council detailing more concerns, which will be aired during Tuesday’s public hearing.

Councilors will also address a request from the Washington County Community Development Corporation for a disbursement of $275,000 from the town’s affordable housing bond, which was approved by the Town Council on Aug. 10, 2011.

The money is for a project, called Shannock Falls, at 1639a Shannock Road. The property was acquired by the corporation in March 2016, using loans from the Rhode Island Housing Land Bank and the Local Incentives Support Corporation. The loans have matured and the town bond funds would be used to pay repay them.

The project was originally known as the Shannock Village Cottages, to be built in conjunction with the Richmond Ridge project, in Richmond, but the two have been combined into one project, Shannock Falls, which has been awarded low income tax credits by Rhode Island Housing.

“We finally got the funding from Rhode Island Community House to build the Shannock low-income housing project that has been in the works now for years and years,” said Lee. “It was already agreed the town would put in this money so we’re disbursing what had already been agreed to some time ago.”

Lee said the council was “excited and delighted that that project is actually going forward.”


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