Abutters angry about proposed Marion solar array

Jun 22, 2021

MARION -- A proposed private solar array caused frustration for neighbors and board members at a Marion Planning Board meeting on June 21.

The Planning Board heard a site plan presentation for a 33-panel, 610 square foot ground-mounted solar array at 8 Quails Crossing from New Generation Energy and Environment, on behalf of the applicant, Jonathan Hoffer.

During the presentation Josh Buck of New Generation mentioned that the applicant was willing to put a fence up to hide the array, which is required by town bylaws, and that the solar panels could be under 5 feet tall.

Neighbors to the property advocated against the project, and expressed displeasure for the application approval process.

Abutter Eileen McCarthy expressed health concerns about the additional electromagnetic field the array would create in her neighborhood.

“There are children,” she said. “You can’t just dismiss the extra electromagnetic field.”

According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence to conclude that low-level electromagnetic field exposure is harmful to human health.

Neighbor Dena Quinlan expressed concern about the effect of cutting down trees for the project, which has already been done, on Route 105.

“I was under the impression that Route 105 is a scenic highway,” she said.

Board Members Norm Hills and Will Saltonstall responded, saying that it is a property owner’s prerogative to cut down trees on their own land. Additionally, Buck indicated during his initial presentation that trees have been planted on the property to screen the solar array.

Other neighbors expressed concern about the handling of the project as a whole.

Jill Pittman wondered why a fence hadn’t already been built for the solar array, as it’s required by town bylaws.

Hills responded, saying that the fence does not need to be constructed unless the solar project is approved.

The public hearing for the array was continued to July 6, after conversation and questioning regarding the project devolved to argument and insult.

Collings said the frustration regarding abutters’ lack of knowledge on board process and town bylaws was “our fault” and that better communication should be made, as the hearing will be “certainly far from the last” regarding residential solar arrays.

Saltonstall agreed with Collings’ sentiment, but noted that bylaws are publicly available for reading and review by residents prior to hearings.