Town bylaws shield proposed Marion solar project

Dec 9, 2018

To the Editor:

In his November 26, 2018 letter to the editor, Mr. Rockwell claims the “solar array proposal must be denied” because “the developer of the project has proposed to clear cut 18 acres for his project.”

This project concerns green energy and the installation of photovoltaic panels, as allowed by Marion’s well-crafted solar bylaw. The solar apparatus will necessitate the removal of old white pine trees, which at this point do not sequester much carbon. Foresters interested in maximizing carbon sequestration favor younger trees that grow more quickly absorbing more carbon dioxide as their biomass increases, rather than, spindly or older trees whose biomass has maxed out.

Residents should remember that many older trees were felled at that “forested” site during back-to-back storms in March 2018 indicating their weakness from disease, poor root systems and/or previous drought conditions.

It is clear that a section of the solar bylaw causing much angst among Marionites alludes to “large scale” clearing: Section 230-16.3 (F), “Large-scale clearing of forested areas for the purpose of constructing systems is prohibited.” The bylaw contains no definition of “Large scale clearing” or “forested areas,” nor does the bylaw provide a mathematical formula for calculating what one might intelligently call “large scale.” Since, there is nothing linking the amount of clearing to the size of the site, Mr. Rockwell’s interpretation is subjective.

Also, the bylaw expressly permits solar farms and photovoltaic systems in residential areas with Planning Board approval see Section 230-16.11.

So, yes, Mr. Rockwell, the bylaw as written authorizes the Planning Board to approve this project, and I am not “acting in a tyrannical manner” nor do I need my “leash yanked” for merely applying Marion’s solar bylaw.

To conclude, this property is privately owned, and within the limits of the law, land owners may use their land as they decide.

Eileen J. Marum