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Big solar plan, big doubts  

Credit:  By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, www.berkshireeagle.com 8 December 2011 ~~

GREAT BARRINGTON – A Connecticut company interested in constructing a large-scale solar array here still has not submitted formal designs with the town, raising questions about when they plan to do so.

CTC Electric officials told the Planning Board in November that they wanted to be on the agenda of tonight’s meeting to initiate the site plan review process for a three- to four-megawatt solar array proposed for farm land on Seekonk and Round Hill roads.

Since the Darien, Conn.-based company’s original request, a number of abutters and town officials have spoken out against the project and CTC notified Planning Board Chairman Jonathan Hankin they wouldn’t be presenting their plans tonight.

Meanwhile, the owners of the property, Harold and Doris Shaw, sent a letter to Town Manager Kevin O’Donnell rebuking the criticism of abutters and the efforts of town officials to stall the project.

The Shaws
questioned the call of some Selectmen and town officials to consider removing the property’s favorable tax designation tied to its use as farm land.

The Shaws, who couldn’t be reached for further comment, went on to write that they were “deeply disturbed” by the Select Board’s objections, especially considering the town’s efforts to pursue “green” initiatives.

Sean Stanton, Select Board chairman, said he understands the Shaws’ position, but declined to comment further.

Though a new date for to initiate the site plan review process was not selected, Hankin said, it’s his understanding that the company is still interested in pursuing the project.

CTC CEO Eric Roddy did not return calls for comment for this story.

Town Planner Christopher Rembold confirmed there has been no submission of plans by CTC, nor has the company made any contact with his office since the November meeting. But that doesn’t mean broader talk of solar projects won’t be discussed tonight.

“They’re not on the agenda, but we will at least begin a conversation about solar zoning in general,” said Rembold.

The board is expected to begin preliminary discussions on the creation of a solar photovoltaic energy overlay district that could go before voters at the annual town meeting in May. O’Donnell has said there are a number of permitting hurdles that will likely prevent CTC from getting the project approved before a bylaw was put in place.

Critics have questioned the location of the proposal, saying it would result in the loss of farm land and would have a negative aesthetic effect on the residential neighborhood.

Source:  By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, www.berkshireeagle.com 8 December 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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