Letter: Why solar projects make so much sense for Hopkinton

Letter: Why solar projects make so much sense for Hopkinton

The Westerly Sun

This is in answer to the letter ‘Hopkinton solar decision was truly unfortunate,’ by Barbara Beauchaine in the Westerly Sun on Saturday, July 22, criticizing Hopkinton for permitting a large solar development on forest land.

The writer needs to know that Hopkinton has few opportunities to balance its tax levy between homes, businesses and industry given the physical limitations on development in town.

First, the glacier took all our primordial top soils and dumped them in Rhode Island Sound. Then it melted and dumped all its gravel and boulders on top of our scraped bedrock.

Look through the starved and diseased trees along Interstate 95 to see the boulder fields still visible piled on the bedrock. Farmers have little substrate to grow crops and really struggle to make a living with rising energy costs.

There are no reservoirs in Hopkinton and few opportunities for public water systems. All our drinking water must come from groundwater, and thus, our streams and rivers are surface expressions of that federally protected sole source groundwater aquifer and cannot be used for disposal of sewage or industrial wastes.

Hopkinton’s ability to develop is severely limited by its hydrology and geology, and great care must be taken in planning and zoning so as not to poison its potable groundwater. A golf course has closed, a manufacturer denied permits, and a dense residential development fought in the courts and prevented all because of existing or potential contamination of Hopkinton’s groundwater.

Solar installations do not pollute our groundwater or obstruct the rain from recharging the groundwater in the location. Large arrays are on platforms above the ground planted with grasses, which still provides forage areas for birds and small animals. And, void of industrial wastes and sewage, the land can be quickly returned to its pristine state, if the solar facility is no longer viable. Solar arrays do not create “brown fields” which are the ugly and poisonous remnants of traditional manufacturing.

Hopkinton’s government now has many experts in planning, zoning, conservation, and land trust management. As an Environmental Protection Agency employee I used to fight the town continuously because of the rabid development attitude and disdain for the natural environment among its elected officials. I think the leadership has now turned the corner, and with the exception of a couple of councilors, understands the area’s limitations. So please know that the departmental experts in town all weighed in on the decision for this solar installation with careful consideration of alternative uses for the land and this small forest’s place in the town’s larger environment.

Mimi Karlsson

Hope Valley


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