Rochester solar project draws concern from neighbors

Jan 12, 2021

ROCHESTER — A proposed 3.9 megawatt solar project on Cushman Road drew concerns from the potential project site’s neighbors at a Jan. 12 Planning Board meeting.

The project would have to utilize an access way that cuts through multiple Rochester residents’ properties in order for workers to reach the site. 

“This right of way is our driveway,” said resident Lisa Mann.

She said the accessway proposed by Beals and Thomas, Inc. representative Eric Las comes within 65 feet of her porch, and 15 feet of a rental property on her land. 

“This is not a simple project,” said Mann, adding that she doesn’t doubt the qualifications of the engineers who put together the plan. 

“But I do doubt the integrity of this,” she said.

Julie Koczera, who owns another adjacent property with her husband Mike Koczera Jr., said that the accessway would run right over the families’ septic tank, and run right up to their hay field.

“We have great potential for damage to be done to our homes and our access to our homes,” said Julie Koczera.

The board explained that there would be legal bonds securing the safety of the property directly underneath the road. Rochester Town Counsel Blair Bailey responded to further concerns that damage could be done outside of the 25-foot allotted space for the accessway, saying that those issues would likely be handled by insurance owned by a construction company. 

The solar array is still far from approved, however, and the board plans to walk the accessway and the site in the near future to get a better idea of the project. 

“You don’t have to think of everything tonight,” said Board Chair Arnold Johnson. “If you think of something tomorrow, there will be at least a couple more public hearings on this project.”