To the editor and all Boxford Boards, Committees, Commissions and Department Heads:
The Zoning Board of Appeals held a special meeting Thursday, April 14, to discuss warrant Article #21 scheduled for Annual Town Meeting to amend the zoning bylaw for large-scale ground-mounted solar photovoltaic installations.
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the Zoning Board of Appeals’ lack of support for this warrant article based on the following:
·$125,000 is a stipend for the tTown of Boxford to have our current zoning in “O” districts trumped, which is a one-time grant for a bylaw in perpetuity.
·There is no democratic process, as this is an “As of Right” bylaw. There is no regulatory process and no appeal process – leaving abutters no options.
·The fact that we are proposing to bring on line an additional 7-10 “RA” district properties is worrisome. Some may have deed restrictions but it is uncertain which parcels would apply. It certainly is astronomical to encompass our entire “O” district with no legislation.
·At the Planning Board public hearing for this proposed bylaw change it appeared there has been minimal cost analysis showing what the savings and payback to the town would be. Numbers were discussed of 20 percent reduction in the town’s electricity bill, but at minimum this warrant article is premature. Without hard numbers this board feels it would be difficult for the town to accept as presented.
·This technology, like so many other advancements of its kind, will probably be obsolete in 15-20 years. If we are going to seek this type of technology and want to have a green initiative, let’s do it on our own timetable and our own terms so that there can be procedures for individuals to follow and a democratic process for the citizens of our town.
·Site Plan Review has always been the jurisdiction of the ZBA not the Planning Board; if this were to pass, an amendment should be made at Town Meeting giving the ZBA the minimal jurisdiction this proposed warrant has.
·The ZBA agrees that during difficult financial crisis in and around our community it is commendable to become a green community but on our own terms – not state mandated – and it doesn’t always make sense in a rural community to make zoning bylaws that take the abutter out of the equation.
On a personal note, as a member of the Zoning Board for almost 20 years – acting as chairman since 2000 – and a resident most of my 54 years, I feel it is necessary to have this board take a position on this proposed bylaw change. All members were present at this Special Meeting with the exception of Mr. Bruker and all are in agreement.
Having sat on 40B, cell tower and wind turbine hearings, this will be a very controversial issue for abutters when these fields get proposed.
In closing, this is bad legislation for the town of Boxford, and we are in hopes this article will be passed over at Town Meeting. I am available for discussion at my Topsfield office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 978-887-3557. I would welcome your comments. – Sincerely, William R. Cargill, Jr., chairman, Zoning Board of Appeals
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