Neighbors look to understand Rochester solar project

Oct 31, 2019

ROCHESTER — Presented with plans for a solar array at 0 Old Middleboro Road at an Oct. 31 Planning Board meeting, neighbors mostly just wanted to understand how it worked. 

The project will involve 260 acres of property, but only 32 would be developed, with the remaining 228 going to the Buzzards Bay Coalition to be conserved. 

The 5 megawatt array would be the largest power generator in Rochester, but only by a tiny amount, Town Planner Steven Starrett explained.

Austin Turner, of Bohler Engineering, explained that Solar MA Project Management, out of New Milford, Connecticut intends  to improve Old Middleboro Road, an unpaved road where the array would be located. The group would widen a little more than a mile of road from its width of 12 feet to an original width of 16 feet. However, developers would not touch the stone walls along the road. 

The drainage work on the site would mimic its natural drainage with some slight modifications to allow water to collect.

Planning Board Chair Arnold Johnson said the Historical Commission discovered a foundation from an old house of a prominent Rochester resident, and would like to have it preserved and open to the public if possible. 

Turner replied that he would want to see the results of a survey his group is doing but doesn’t anticipate that being a problem. 

One abutter wanted to understand the noise level, which the board said would be quieter than the conversation at the meeting. He also wanted to be sure there would be no visible light at night, and the array would not interfere with TV antennas. He was assured neither would be an issue. 

Gary Raposa wanted to know why the group was buying a lot abutting his as part of the project. Turner clarified that that it would be part of the conservation land. 

Deb Hartley wondered if the activity around Old Middleboro Road meant that it might become a town road. Johnson said that he hadn’t heard that discussed, and it would be an issue to take up with Selectmen. 

The Planning Board continued the hearing to Nov. 12 to give Rochester residents “plenty of opportunity to speak again,” as Johnson put it.