China planners hold rescheduled meeting on solar farm

by Mary Grow

On Nov. 14, China planning board members held their rescheduled public hearing on Novel Energy Systems’ proposed community solar farm on Parmenter Hill Road, the section locally known as Moe’s Mountain.

Attendees included nearby landowners who attended the Sept. 26 preliminary discussion and Novel representatives. Main issues were those already raised Sept. 26 – possible contamination, effects on property values and decommissioning at the end of the facility’s useful life (see the Oct. 5 issue of The Town Line, p. 2).

In the interim, codes officer Zachary Gosselin had provided a copy of Novel’s information at the China town office for interested parties to read.

Novel permitting specialist Scott Tempel repeated information he offered Sept. 26, for example that there are no known cases of aluminum or other metals leaching from solar panels – or from widely-used aluminum siding, he added – into soil or groundwater. His assurances were again met with skepticism.

Novel plans soil testing to establish a baseline as part of project construction.

Abutter Jennifer Whitney asked if there would be battery storage on site. The answer was no; there is on some projects, but none is planned here, and adding it at a later date would require another planning board permit.

Tempel again said there will be erosion control measures in place during construction, and that maintenance of the facility will involve planting native grasses and plants that attract pollinators, with occasional mowing. No chemical herbicides will be used.

After the three-quarter hour hearing, board members indicated they will review Novel’s application again at their next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday evening, Nov. 28. A decision is possible if they find the application complete.

They briefly discussed another set of amendments to China’s Planning Board Ordinance, in preparation for a presentation to China select board members at that board’s Nov. 20 meeting.


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