standing letters

Even though the solar array on the Brushy Brook property in Hopkinton was voted down (3-2) on Monday, January 28, it can be brought back for reconsideration by one of the three prevailing councilors.

It is difficult to characterize requests to a solar developer as a bribe or “repugnant” when the only benefits construed are for the citizens of Hopkinton to lower their tax base and municipal bills. The requests were made in full public view at public hearings, on camera and with a full court stenographer present to record all discussion. All town staff and councils negotiate through their RFP’s and approval processes with developers, contractors, insurance agencies and others — ultimately everything that the citizens are billed for, use or see. This is no different. It’s simply a new genre.

Everyone pays taxes, but citizens give back within their neighborhoods to create vibrant and valuable communities. A solar array employs for construction, pays taxes yearly, but then, for 20 years or more, gives nothing back to the local economy. Not acceptable by my standards. So, I stepped up to the plate.

My requests of up-front infrastructure improvements — the final monies for a renovated town hall, $250,000 to allow ADA compliance, and $150,000 for the removal of the 1904 elementary school building, which has asbestos and lead and is a danger to our children. Then yearly payments of 100% of our municipal electrical budget, $40,000 for the ongoing work of our Land Trust to renovate and create trails and access to our forested and preserved land, $20,000 to our nonprofits, to be different every other year supporting the very fine work of any number of businesses who enliven, strengthen and support children, working parents and our elders — the same as any citizen or business in Hopkinton and the surrounding towns.

Hopkinton has no beachfront property or extensive commercial and manufacturing facilities. We need our own system to create a tax base, so solar, buffered and hidden in our large parcels of land, may be what we have been looking for. Ultimately, with property and tangible taxes of approximately $346,000, the total per year with this one property would be $500,000 for 20 years or more and includes approximately $100,000 for the municipal electric bill, $40,000 for the Land Trust and $20,000 for our non-profits. My fellow councilors felt this was “repugnant” and voted “No”. Save the trees, raise the taxes. Frank Landolfi and I are NOT politicians. Every decision we have made has been to support our local organizations, stabilize taxes and to keep Hopkinton not only "Country," but in the black.

Although solar and wind are imperfect, they’re all we’ve got. We are rural, do not wish to become simply a bedroom community, and intend to stay that way. We also know we are only part of a larger whole, a local and regional solution to very complex and often overwhelming fuel and climate problems.

We have always been resilient, courageous and independent. We can do this.

Barbara Capalbo

Hopkinton

The writer is a member of the Hopkinton Town Council.

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(4) comments

rurallover

Councilwoman Capalbo, I think you are foolish to think that your "codicils" will hold water and actually bring any additional revenue to the town. Profiteers know how to manipulate. The town would likely end up with a mess of environmental issues and the project may never even complete. And regardless, your codicils do not offset what we'd lose in our beautiful rural town. I'm disgusted by your implication that other members of the council should reconsider. Accept the vote and accept the voice of the majority of your constituents.

Lucymarty

Ms.Capalbo- If you are not a politician please find another hobby, maybe as a fundraiser for some of the projects you demanded funding for, albeit for a yes vote on a separate and unrelated political issue. I find this the height of double speak for a person not functioning as a politician while actively sitting as an elected town official. I would also point out that if you do not understand why your behavior is repugnant as many of your constituents feel it is, shows a lack of self awareness rarely on display for all to see. Although I guess in the current political climate you just about say or do anything you want and create your own reality. Unfortunately, for both you and Landolfi the next election in town will prove which side of the fence Hopkinton residents want to live on. I for one hope replacements to the council send a clear message to the profiteers from outside our area that our town is not for sale regardless if it puts a minuscule amount of money in our town coffers. We live here because of the rural nature and character and do not wish to have our zoned residential areas turned into manufacturing environments for the new gold rush. Whatever happened to having this technology on areas like gravel pits, parking structures or in business parks? How about government buildings? How about putting them on top of town hall?? I know its probably an eye sore for all the non-politicians that go there to work. See you more in a year or two.

Leagen

I have read that destroying the trees will cause more Global warming. Yes, that was an argument. I say look to North Stonington where there are Very Large Farms with pastures and corn fields with no trees . North Stonington does not seem to be hurting from any bad effects of those trees being gone. Personally I am For anything that helps us get away from Oil Use which in turn would the USA more Self-reliant. I love Hopkinton and want it to stay rural and I don't see Solar as hurting us.

ahopkintonresident

Barbara has some very valid points. Hopkinton has very few ways to raise revenue. Solar is one way to do it. I find it unfortunate that a compromise could not be found. My hope is in the future we all can find ways to preserve our country feel as well as embrace ways to raise revenue.

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