I was among those who filled out the Hopkinton Comprehensive Plan survey during our last major update. My survey response can be summarized as "keep Hopkinton rural." This does not mean freeze things where we are. We face new challenges. Staying rural is going to take a lot of change.
Take energy. We have to get off fossil fuels. Our current crop of lousy utility-scale solar proposals is driven by two things: finding the cheapest land cost and the lowest interconnection charge from National Grid. We can change this formula. Wind and solar must be designed first to go easy on the local environment and to complement our rural character. The Planning Board and Town Council rewrite of the solar ordinance now underway provides an excellent opportunity. The town can codify incentives and disincentives so that the financial best interests of developers align with thoughtful projects.
Keeping Hopkinton rural requires changes to preserve working farms. The one-acre solar projects on intermediate and large farms are a financial necessity for their future. The larger, full-time farms need even more help to thrive. Wind energy is the only viable income stream that doesn't eat up farm land with utility-scale solar or house lots. Farms, one-acre solar and wind turbines belong together.
We need these changes to keep Hopkinton rural.
The writer is the chairman of the Hopkinton Conservation Commission.