standing letters

The solar flim-flam artists are at it again in Hopkinton with one of their tried-and-true scare tactics, warning residents that if they don’t approve the installation of a solar power plant in their neighborhood, they will get “something worse” — namely, an affordable housing project on their doorstep that will be teeming with gangs and violence.

Who can forget the time when an attorney for some Brushy Brook abutters (who, perhaps not coincidentally, has also done work over the past 20 years for other business ventures of Mr. Ralph Palumbo of Southern Sky, the Brushy Brook developer, and Mr. Anthony DelVicario, Palumbo’s erstwhile partner and the developer of the Maxson Hill solar project — including a disastrous movie studio venture in South Windsor, Conn., that ended in bankruptcy) sternly warned the Hopkinton Town Council that the owner of the Brushy Brook property was “ready to roll the bulldozers this summer!” to build the affordable housing if the council dared to refuse their petition to rezone the residential property for industrial solar energy.

It was all a lot of hot air. Representatives of David Allen, the owner of the property, have now asked the Planning Board for a one-year extension on the July 1, 2019, deadline for submission of the preliminary plan for their development. In fact, they haven’t even prepared any detailed plans for the development and are nowhere near construction on the property.

More recently, Mr. Jason Tefft, one of the least truthful and more persistent rumor-mongering solar proponents in Hopkinton, has been going door to door in the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed Skunk Hill and Lisa Lane commercial solar projects to warn abutters that if they don’t support the solar project, the owner of the property will break ground this summer to install “40 affordable housing units.” Mr. Tefft has two corporate filings in the State of Rhode Island: one for a tree-clearing and firewood business; and a second as a “land acquisition agent” whose chief activity is to scout properties for commercial solar developers.

There is no plan on file with the town planner to develop affordable housing — or any housing — on the subject properties.

In fact, there have been just two affordable housing projects approved in Hopkinton over the past 12 years, the most recent of which was approved 9 years ago: Canonchet Woods (March 7, 2007) and Rockville Mill (November 3, 2010). Both projects are struggling with very high rates of vacancy and/or uncompleted units. This is due, in large part, to the fact that since the Great Recession of 2008, there is actually a large stock of single-family housing that is quite affordable in Hopkinton, which makes these projects unattractive by comparison. There is no incentive to build affordable housing because potential buyers have more attractive options.

Neither of the projects is infested with members of MS 13, or any other criminal gang.

At a recent meeting of the Hopkinton Planning Board, the chair sternly warned a solar developer to not annoy the board with any threat to “roll the bulldozers” to build housing because they were sick of hearing these empty threats. Hopkinton residents would do well do heed this advice and do the same when any solar land-acquisition agents come knocking on their doors.

Eric Bibler

Hopkinton

The writer is a member of Hopkinton Citizens for Responsible Planning.

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