Rochester Planning Board hears three solar project updates

May 27, 2020

ROCHESTER — The Planning Board heard updates on three solar projects, all in different phases, and continued all three projects to a June 9 meeting to allow for further public input. 

Eric Las of Beals and Thomas, an engineer representing the developer, Braley Hill North Solar, LLC, presented an array planned for the southern end of Featherbed Lane. The company owns 60 acres of land, but will only clear 10.8 acres, meaning that the 2.5 Mw project would have a relatively light footprint, Las said.  

Abuttor Damien McCann asked about the distance from his house and the screening method for the project because he is quite partial to his view. He was told there will be a seven foot black vinyl fence around the array. 

Las also presented a 9.5 MW array on Braley Hill North, which successfully addressed all of the content in a peer review. Las wanted to ask the Planning Board for six waivers. 

The Planning Board approved all six, but also held the issue for another meeting for additional comment. 

Greg Carey with Clean Energy out of Auburn came before the board for the first time for a special permit application for an array at 0 Sarah Sherman Road.

Bill Souza owns 23 acres, and will use 4.1 acres on the western end of his property for a 1 MW array. The array wold only require one acre of clearing. 

Planning Board members noticed that Carey hadn’t left enough woods on his property as screening. Carey said that his neighbor at Ashley Bogs had plenty of woods for screening. 

But Town Counsel Blair Bailey clarified that any screening from your project has to be on land controlled by Carey and Clean Energy. 

The board offered the company three options to fix the dilemma - screen it, put up a bond, or arrange for an easement.