Hopkinton Planning Board hears 2 more solar project proposals

Hopkinton Planning Board hears 2 more solar project proposals

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HOPKINTON — The Planning Board heard preliminary, or pre-application presentations for two more solar energy projects Wednesday. One is from a local developer and the second is being proposed by Green Development LLC, a large solar and wind energy developer from North Kingstown.

Stano Trombino, who developed Bank Street Solar, the town’s first solar facility, is seeking to use 5½ acres at the rear of his 22-acre property on Alton Bradford Road to build a solar array. The rest of the parcel, which is in a manufacturing zone, will eventually be developed as the Preserve Business Park.

“There are no wetlands on this property and this entire project will require no variances or zone changes,” Trombino told the board, noting that he had also received letters of support for the project from two of the abutting property owners.

Trombino said he had provided a handout with further information on aspects of the project such as noise, decommissioning costs, fencing and landscaping, but board members said they had not received it in time for the meeting.

Board member Amy Williams said, “I personally don’t feel comfortable granting this to go without further review until I’ve had time to read the documents and see the plans with regards to the screening and things like that.”

Member Tom Holburton said that he, too, needed to see the documents. “I would love to grant you development plan review tonight, but I really have to go through those calculations and vegetation and plantings and this and that,” he told Trombino.

The review was continued to a future meeting.

Also appearing for development plan review were engineer Kevin Morin and project developer Hannah Morini, representing Green Development. The company is proposing to build a 3.75 megawatt AC solar array on a 53-acre parcel near Palmer Circle, with 2,000 feet fronting on Interstate 95.

The parcel, in a manufacturing zone, is a field, so there would be little or no tree-cutting.

Morin told the board that the installation would generate about $19,000 in annual taxes for the solar array alone and $468,000 over the life of the array, which is expected to be 25 years.

“One of the pluses at this site, I think, is that the solar will probably be very easy to do here,” Morin said. “It doesn’t require earthwork — basically, lay it out in the field.”

Morini indicated that her company was aware of the growing resistance in rural towns like Hopkinton to solar projects that require tree removal.

“We’ve tried to put together a project that addresses the specific concerns: tree-clearing, zone changes and traffic. This doesn’t require any of that,” she said.

Board members said they felt comfortable with the general location and scope of the proposal,   but Chairman Alfred DiOrio said he wanted to ensure that the array would not be visible from I-95.

“I’m as concerned about 95 as I am about visibility from our local road network,” he said. “I’m not quite sure that solar panels set a tone for what I envision my community to look like from the highway.”

Morini and Morin agreed to return to the board with ideas for screening the array from the highway.






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