I have been watching the Planning Board and the Town Council of Hopkinton during the past several weeks and find the two groups at cross-purposes. The Planning Board is considering the ban or discouragement by Zoning Use Table of the addition or continuance of gasoline/diesel, stations and disallowing solar (electric) in residential neighborhoods. At the same time, the Town Council, with more foresight, is addressing the future of solar in residential areas — allowing ground-mounted solar in RFR80 zones to anticipate the growing demand for the use of electric vehicles and the elimination of fossil fuels to heat and light homes.
Granted, as I can attest, ground-mounted solar arrays in RFR80 neighborhoods have been an ongoing and extremely raucous issue. However “ugly” they may be to some, they are the need of the future. Electric charging stations for our citizens will be necessary whether they are in a private garage or at a public place. Some citizens will prefer using their own solar arrays to generate their electricity instead of buying it from the grid. I believe this should be allowed, by right, with the oversight of the building and zoning officer and the rules established by the Town Council. A special-use permit, now under consideration, is extremely expensive and time consuming for the ordinary citizen and the volunteer Planning or Zoning Board.
Gasoline, diesel and propane will still be necessary for the forseeable future. If the electric grid crashes (climate change?) I would hope that citizens have easy access to diesel for their home generators, as well as fueling our large snow plows and other very large pieces of construction and farming equipment. As much as many citizens would like us to be a bedroom community with open space and trees, we have been for the last 200 years a farming, industrial and residential community with open space and trees.
Our water has been and still is pristine, contrary to the anxiety engendered by some of our most vocal neighbors. Solar does not pollute water. Since the establishment of zoning and planning in the 1970s, generators, batteries and in-ground tanks have been controlled and will still be controlled in the future. We can, working together, solve climate change, fossil fuels, carbon sequestration and still have economic development, healthy families and good governance.
The writer is a former member of the Hopkinton Town Council.