Eminent domain is “the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.”
The town of Hopkinton isn’t attempting to take title to Skunk Hill neighborhood homes. Instead they are considering confiscating something of tangible value; which is the very reason the constituents bought their homes in the first place.
If the Skunk Hill solar proposal is approved, the residents will forfeit the safety of the rural surroundings for their children. Heavy construction, high-voltage electricity and kids don’t mix. This is why we have ZONES, to avoid conflict and potential harm. The developers tout safety, then surround the massive panel arrays with 6-foot chain-link fencing and danger signs!
Obviously there would be significant equity loss for the Skunk Hill neighborhoods. Speaking from over 20 years experience as a Realtor, prospective homebuyers don’t like danger signs. The buyers willing to even consider a neighborhood bordering an industrial utility will expect and ultimately receive a deep discount.
As if the reasons above aren’t enough to stop this proposal in its tracks, legal scrutiny revealed that this proposal, with its proposed 64 acres of panel coverage, doesn’t have the right to proceed based on the current town ordinance. On Jan. 22, 2019, the town adopted a new and more restrictive solar ordinance to address the concerns of the residents. If, as of that amendment date, a proposal hadn’t met threshold requirements to be vested or “grandfathered” under the previous ordinance, then it is subject to the new and current one.
Although repeatedly pressed on this issue by residents and their legal council, this unambiguous legal point has yet to be addressed by the Town Council. Enough is enough. Our Town Council needs to protect the integrity of our neighborhoods through the proper application of the town’s amended solar ordinance adopted on Jan. 22.