CHINA: Solar company may expand array onto another lot

by Mary Grow

At their Jan. 25 meeting, China Planning Board members continued discussion of two of their Jan. 11 topics (see The Town Line, Jan. 20, p. 3).

Since Jan. 11, they learned, China’s town attorney, Amanda Meader, has agreed that if SunRaise Investments leases more land adjoining the planned solar farm on the south side of Route 3, the company may enlarge the solar array.

The previously-approved array met lot coverage limits in China’s ordinance; a larger one would require more land. When SunRaise proposed the additional lease, Meader’s first reaction was that a 2016 Maine Law Court decision meant the new area could not count as part of the original lot.

However, SunRaise spokesman Scott Anderson said Jan. 25, he convinced Meader that the two situations are not comparable, and she withdrew her objection. SunRaise therefore was ready to submit an application for an enlarged project at the next planning board meeting.

The next question was whether the expanded project needed a new application or a revision of the previous one. A majority of board members asked for a new application, citing their and neighbors’ concerns about run-off, the small amount of tree-cutting that is planned and other possible effects.

The second left-over issue was ordinance amendments that board members hope select board members will put on the June 14 town business meeting ballot. At the Jan. 11 meeting, board member Toni Wall volunteered to prepare the documents selectmen requested: for each proposed change, the original, the marked-up copy and the final copy. She had them ready Jan. 25.

After another discussion about whether board members needed to re-review the documents, they authorized Chairman Scott Rollins to send them to the Town Manager and to the chairman of the select board. If select board members send them back with recommendations for changes, planning board members can re-review them then.

The proposed changes are amendments to two sections of the current ordinance and addition of a Solar Energy Systems Ordinance to regulate future applications like SunRaises’s. For SunRaise and other solar-farm applicants, planning board members have adapted other sections of the ordinance.

Codes Officer Jaime Hanson said the new SunRaise application is, so far, the only item on the board’s Feb. 8 agenda. The planning board normally meets at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, recently in the town office meeting room.


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