COLRAIN – The Colrain Planning Board is asking the town to put a temporary hold on special permit applications for commercial-scale windmill and solar farms until the board has had a chance to study the possible impact of such projects.
There will be a public hearing Tuesday at 7 p.m. to discuss the Planning Board’s special town meeting warrant article asking for a temporary moratorium. The article is to be included in a special town meeting on March 12.
Tuesday’s public hearing will take place in the Old Town Office on Jacksonville Road.
The Colrain Planning Board is the second board in West County to seek a moratorium on wind and solar farms.
Recently, both the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board have heard an informational presentation for a 2-megawatt photovoltaic array from Hyperion Systems Inc.
According to Richard Hahn of the Amherst-based company, it developed solar arrays that sit above farm land, high enough to leave enough sunlight for crops. Work on this technology was developed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Agricultural Experiment Station, and a 100-kilowatt system is in place at Lynn and Jack Edwards’ farm in Hadley.
Hahn said he went to Colrain town boards “to see how receptive the planning board and selectmen are” to the PV system. He said he was in a “very early” stage of discussions with a local farmer. He declined to name the farmer and said there is no contract or agreement at this point.
“Our largest goal is to get a bylaw in the works,” said Planning Board Chairwoman Joan Rockwell. “We had an informational presentation that came before us. But we don’t have a bylaw to manage or understand the impact of wind or solar (generating facilities). I think our best outcome right now is to work with our (Zoning Board of Appeals) on this. Some of the parameters for large-scale wind and large-scale solar (installations) have not been developed yet, and some are in contention.”
Heath to vote on wind, solar moratorium Tuesday night
Also on Tuesday night, Heath speial town meeting voters will be deciding whether to support a moratorium on wind and solar proposals there, while the Heath Planning Board works on developing a siting bylaw. The moratorium sought in Heath would take effect from now through June 30 – although that board may ask for a year-long moratorium at the annual town meeting.
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