China planners hear preliminary information on second solar development

by Mary Grow

At their first virtual meeting April 28, China Planning Board members heard preliminary information on a second proposed solar development, this one on Route 3 (Belfast Road), and scheduled a site visit and a public hearing.

SunRaise Development of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the company that previously received approval for a solar array off Windsor Road (Route 32 South) north of Erskine Academy, proposes a smaller similar project on about three-quarters of Dan Ouellette’s lot. The lot is the site of a loam-mining operation that Codes Officer Bill Butler said will be reseeded when the ground is dry enough.

On Jim Wilkens’ recommendation, board members set a site visit for 9 a.m., Saturday, May 9. Anyone planning to attend is asked to notify Butler at the China town office promptly, because participants are limited to 10, including SunRaise representatives and board members. Social distancing will be practiced.

A public hearing is scheduled for the next planning board meeting, moved from the usual second Tuesday of the month to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 19. People with questions will need to sign up to participate in the meeting or submit the questions in advance. The meeting will be available for viewing at the China website.

At the April 28 meeting, Kevin Corbett, vice-president of Construction at SunRaise, Lisa Vickers, senior project manager with Atlantic Environmental in Woolwich and Joe Marden, of Sitelines, a Brunswick engineering and surveying firm, explained that the new project will be a smaller version of the Windsor Road one.

SunRaise plans to lease most of the property – Ouellette is keeping the northeast part with Route 3 frontage. A gated access road will run south off Route 3 to about the middle of the lot, where batteries and related equipment will be grouped. A line of trees running roughly east-west will be cut.

Because the lot is smaller than the Windsor Road one, solar panels will be farther apart and slightly more tilted to reduce impervious surface. Once the ground under them is reseeded, the project will meet China’s lot coverage and phosphorus run-off requirements. The panels will have a non-glare coating.

Board members discussed questions raised by abutting landowner Neil Farrington related to run-off in the China Lake watershed and other issues. They voted that the application is complete, ready to be reviewed against China’s land use criteria after the site visit and hearing.


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