With talk of a solar photovoltaic array being put on the town’s former dump, the Mattapoisett Planning Board held an informal meeting with Rick Charon of Charon Associates March 18 to hear about another solar array proposal, also located on Tinkham Hill Road, but on land owned by Mahoney & Sons.
Charon, representing BlueWave Capital LLC, said the developers are proposing a commercial solar array across 22 acres of an 87-acre, two parcel property owned by Mahoney & Sons. He said the project is very similar to what the town proposes for the old town dump. Town officials hope to use the 140-acre retired trash dump, closed in 2000, as a solar power site to harness electricity and recoup some rental income from the site that has so far been toured by more than a dozen prospective solar developers.
Charon said he will meet with the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission and then Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals on this second project but wanted to come in front of the planning board to keep them in the know despite the fact that the work to be done on the commercially-zoned site doesn’t fall into the scope of work the planning board generally deals with.
“It will be located on 22-25 acres of upland, an area outside of the buffer zone and we are hoping the ConCom does not require further filings,” Charon said. “If ConCom sees no impact on the buffer zone or wetlands and we get their approval, we will then go in front of the ZBA at their first meeting in April to ask for a special permit to allow this project.”
Charon said time for the project is of the essence due to availability of state and federal solar renewable energy tax credits available for projects but there is a state cap on these credits. Charon hopes to get BlueWave Capital’s in before the cap is met.
“We looked at the town bylaw and I couldn’t see anything that would trigger a site plan review process,” Charon said of the planning board’s potential involvement.
“I was looking but couldn’t see any on our end either,” Mattapoisett Planning Board Chairman Tom Tucker said.
Charon said they would have to clear some existing trees at the site to allow for the U-shaped channels that will be mounted on concrete pads where 500 to 600 solar panels will sit, each about 3-square-inches. Charon said besides the array itself and concrete pads, there wouldn’t be much impervious surface at the site. There will be a 12-foot wide gravel access road for the site but no parking. He said they will submit a storm water pollution prevention plan for the site but expect a minimal amount of change and the area where the arrays will be located will all be hydro seeded.
When asked about potential buyers for the solar energy, Charon said they did have potential buyers already in place but was unsure whom they would be and or the amounts they were purchasing.
“The town will get money in lieu of taxes,” Charon said, all negotiated between town official and BlueWave Capital, who are only leasing the site.
Mattapoisett Planning Board Member Karen Field asked about the expiration of the array and what would happen if the site was just abandoned and the town left holding the cards.
“That’s a good question and something that will have to be brought up, perhaps at the ZBA meeting,” Charon said.
Mattapoisett Planning Board Member Ron Merlo, who has an 8.1 KW solar system on his house, said those kinds of projects generally have a life span of about 25 years.
“I highly recommend it. We had to purchase our system but we haven’t paid an electric bill in over two years. It’s been very little maintenance and no impact,” Merlo said. “Much better than wind power, in my opinion, but yes, there is a question if everyone decides to walk away.”
Charon said he would look into the question and get an answer.
“You will see more of these I’m sure,” Charon said of the arrays. “They are much more benign then the turbines.”
“And the technology’s improving every day, harnessing power from the sun,” Merlo said.
The board thanked Charon for his time in presenting them with the plans that were generally met positively by the members.
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