China planners hear plans for community solar farm

by Mary Grow

At their Feb. 13 meeting, China planning board members heard preliminary plans for a community solar farm in a gravel pit off Windsor Road (Route 32 South) and, as expected, denied an application to convert a building on China Village’s Main Street to apartments.

The solar development is proposed by Perennial Sand Pit Solar, of Hallowell. The application was prepared by Atlantic Resource Consultants, of Freeport. Nichols Lacasse, from Perennial, and Andrew Johnston, from Atlantic, explained the project.

The 3,442 solar panels will be inside an existing gravel pit on the west side of Route 32 South, at least 800 feet from the nearest residence and shielded from public view by the pit walls.

Like other area solar installations, the panels will be inside a seven-foot-high chain-link fence, “wildlife-friendly” (which means a gap at the bottom sized to admit small animals, but not children, Johnston explained).

Access will be over the existing Pit Road. The 20-foot-wide entrance gate will be locked, with a Knox box to allow emergency personnel admission if needed.

The installation will not include water or a septic system. After construction is done, there will be little traffic, little noise and no lights, solid waste, odors, hazardous materials or other neighborhood disturbances.

Because the project is a community solar farm, local residents will be invited to buy in. Those who do will slightly reduce their monthly electric bills.

Planning board chairman Toni Wall listed other information applicants need to provide. If it is added in time for review at the Feb. 27 board meeting, she said the board could vote the application complete that evening and schedule a public hearing for the first March meeting, which should be Tuesday evening, March 12.

The other application considered Feb. 13 was from Carrol White, to convert the former Grange Hall in China Village to a four-unit apartment building (see the Feb. 1 issue of The Town Line, p. 3). Planning board members found the application was complete and the project meets all ordinance criteria except lot size, for which White needs a variance from the China Board of Appeals.

The finding was expected. White intends to ask for a Board of Appeals meeting.

If the variance is granted and the project approved, China Village resident Daniel Coleman intends to carry it through, he and White told the board in January.


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