Monday, I attended a Hopkinton Town Council hearing about a request for a zoning change to allow a 97.5-acre industrial solar plant that would have lasting detrimental impact on countless of our Hopkinton neighbors, among them my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews. Listening to the testimony of dozens of citizens who value the environment, woodland, and the rural nature of our community, I was reminded that there are times when the very soul of our town is at risk. It was heartwarming to hear so many intelligent, fact-based, compassionate presentations by people with a view not for bottom-line profits but for the legacy we will leave generations to come.
My brother is fighting his way back from a series of strokes, so it has added insult to his injury, that now, he must also fight for the home he’s created for his sons. At a time when he should be focused on recovery, he’s having to defend his neighborhood against an opportunistic invasion slickly packaged as a boon to the town. It shocks me that in 2018, there are still people who believe that just because we enjoy living surrounded by trees, we’re a bunch of illiterate woodcutters easily duped into deals that are not in our best interest. The people who testified tonight proved that there are still people who value community and quality of life over making a quick dollar.
Members of the Town Council listened and answered questions, assuring everyone that none of them has yet made up their minds. There was so much testimony, the hearing has been continued until Aug. 6, and will, most likely, be held again at the Chariho Middle School (check the Hopkinton town website for details).
Several presenters referenced the trust Hopkinton residents place in the Town Council to represent our best interest and not to sacrifice any of our neighbors’ homes without overwhelming evidence that it’s necessary to do so. They invoked the concept of a “social contract” that exists in small, rural towns like Hopkinton, that we will look out for one another. Certainly, those who testified tonight, weren’t there simply because of their own interests but because they recognize, and want to alert us all, to the threat of these profit-minded developers who have targeted our beautiful community.
Friends, our neighbors need us. They need us to pay attention to this issue. They need us to show up to the council hearings to communicate our commitment to look out for our neighbors. They need to hear that we care that their homes and ways of life are threatened.
What we’ve learned from these hearings is that they won’t be the last group of homeowners negatively impacted if these developments are allowed to flourish unchecked. Please, consider attending the Aug. 6 meeting to show the residents of Old Depot Road and the surrounding roads that not only do we value 97.5 acres of woodland in our town, we value the people impacted by the clearcutting that will occur if the council votes in favor of this zoning change.
Lori Stanley RoeleveldHopkinton