The issue tearing at the fabric of the Hopkinton community is not solar energy, it’s zoning. The reason towns have Comprehensive Plans, including land-use maps, is to provide predictable zoning and land-use rules. Homeowners rely on the integrity of that zoning plan when building or buying a home.
Commercial business is strictly prohibited in residential zones. Large landowners are arguing that they should be able to do whatever they want with their residential land, zoning be damned, and the neighbors? Well, tough luck. By that measure I should be able to put a Starbucks drive-thru in my side yard.
Requesting a zone change to put a commercial utility plant in a residential zone abutting established neighborhoods, it is nothing short of an attempt to violate the property rights of every abutting landowner.
Who wouldn’t like to see an offset for their escalating property taxes? Currently 76 cents of every property tax dollar paid goes to the Chariho school budget. A more equitable division of the financial burden for the tri-town school must be worked out. But covering our rural town in solar panels is not a reasonable remedy.
The commercial solar invasion has worn its welcome thin. It has already strained relationships in our community and changed the face of our town. The next time you take a walk, a drive or jump on a motorcycle, how long does it take you before you see your first solar array of the day? Not very long. It has the potential to do irreparable damage to our charming town, a town that was once voted as having the best quality of life in Rhode Island.